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The poor crystallinity of smectites still lends itself to useful analysis by X-ray diffraction. The method provides an understanding of mineralogical purity, layer stacking order/disorder of individual crystallites. Interpreted with the averaged crystal chemical structural model, plenty of behavior can be predicted with a high degree of accuracy.

Figure at left is the X-ray diffraction pattern of a highly purified, calcium-saturated, fine fraction of Mt Binjour (QLD) montmorillonite. 

See Gates 2008 Clays and Clay Minerals, 56:11-23 for further details.

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