Special Issue "Clay Mineral Transformations after Bentonite/Clayrocks and Heater/Water Interactions from Lab and Large-Scale Tests"

A special issue of Minerals (ISSN 2075-163X). This special issue belongs to the section "Environmental Mineralogy and Biogeochemistry".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 20 January 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Ana María Fernández
Guest Editor
Centro de Investigaciones Energéticas Medioambientales y Tecnológicas, Madrid, Spain
Interests: pore water chemistry; clay mineral synthesis; clay formations; properties of clays and natural raw materials; applicability of bentonites in European HLRW repositories
Dr. Stephan Kaufhold
Guest Editor
Bundesanstalt fur Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe, Hannover, Germany
Interests: properties of clays and natural functional raw materials; applicability of bentonites in European HLRW repositories; adsorption mechanisms in soils and geotechnical barriers; development of new or modified mineralogical methods frequently based on a collection of reference materials
Prof. Dr. Markus Olin
Guest Editor
Final Disposal of Spent Nuclear Fuel, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd, Kivimiehentie 3, Espoo, P.O. Box 1000, FI-02044 VTT, Finland
Interests: bentonite mechanics: modelling, experiments, high temperature; microbial activity in bentonite; thermal treatment technology (e.g. ion exchange resins) and end product (geopolymer) final disposal
Dr. Lian-Ge Zheng
Guest Editor
Nuclear Energy and Waste Program Head, Energy Geoscience Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
Interests: numerical modeling of non-isothermal, multiphase flow and multi-component reactive transport in porous media; inverse methodologies of parameter estimation; coupled modeling of thermal (T), hydrodynamic (H), mechanical (M) and chemical (C) processes in the subsurface
Dr. Paul Wersin
Website1 Website2
Guest Editor
Institute of Geological Sciences, University of Bern, Baltzerstrasse 1+3, 3012 Bern, Switzerland
Interests: bentonites; geochemistry in the engineered barrier system (EBS) of high-level waste repositories; diffusion processes in the EBS; geochemistry and diffusion in argillaceous host rocks; steel corrosion and its impact on the bentonite barrier; transport of radionuclides in the EBS and host rock
Dr. James Wilson
Guest Editor
Wilson Scientific Ltd, Warrington, UK
Interests: geomaterials evolution in radioactive waste disposal systems (especially geochemical modelling); the environmental assessment of radiological and non-radiological (chemotoxic) substances, especially those associated with radioactive wastes or legacy sites

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We are pleased to announce the launch of a new a Special Issue of the journal Minerals that shall present a set of themed articles on “Clay Mineral Transformations after Bentonite/Clayrocks and Heater/Water interactions from Lab and Large-Scale Tests”. The main focus will be on geochemical and mineralogical processes observed from heating/hydration experiments performed at different scales, which may alter the structure and properties of bentonites and/or clayrocks used as barriers in the context of deep geological disposal of nuclear fuels and radioactive waste.

Bentonites and clayrocks are an essential component of the multi-barrier system securing the long-term safety of the final disposal of nuclear waste. The efficiency of such engineered and natural clay barriers relies on their physical and chemical confinement properties. Therefore, the long-term preservation of these properties over large periods is an important issue. From a geochemical point of view, the clayey mineral’s function to isolate the canisters from water and retard the migration of radionuclides also means maintaining a suitable chemical and mineralogical environment for canister integrity, radionuclide retention, and mechanical stability over time, buffering possible alteration/deterioration processes of the nanoporous clay materials.

One scientific approach used to tackle the prediction of long-term clay barrier behavior is through the analysis of results from experiments conducted in laboratory, large-scale mock-up tests, and in situ experiments conducted in underground research laboratories (URL) at real scale and under realistic conditions. These tests provide the opportunity to understand and quantify the processes and to evaluate the behavior of the clay minerals.

Different experiments have been performed over time using bentonites and natural clayrocks. Around 40 years ago, a few commercial high-quality bentonites were acquired for their study as buffer and backfill materials in the construction of engineering barrier systems (EBS) for the isolation of high-level radioactive waste. Today, highly compacted bentonite blocks, high-density bentonite pellets or a mixture thereof are being used both in laboratory and large-scale in situ experiments (FEBEX, LOT, ABM, FE experiment, etc.).

In the case of clayrocks, these experiments are conducted in URLs. Twenty-six URLs were set up in 10 countries between 1965 and 2006. In Europe, three of them were constructed in clayrocks environments: HADES (Belgium, 1980- , Boom Clay plastic clayrock), Mont Terri (Switzerland, 1995- , Opalinus Clay consolidated clayrock), and Meuse/Haute-Marne or Bure URL (France, 2000- , Callovo-Oxfordian consolidated clayrock), where many geochemical/mineralogical studies are currently being performed.

An overview of the results found up to date may contribute to establish the know-how about the understanding of the thermo-/hydro-chemical processes affecting to the clay minerals, and their response to different perturbations (e.g., desaturation, corrosion, gases produced and consumed, interactions with other materials, and inorganic/organic species), which may produce physico-chemical changes affecting their mechanical (swelling, permeability, etc.) and sorption properties. This may contribute to validate applied technologies, to the design of future experiments for unresolved questions, and to validate modeling tools required for interpretation and prediction of the evolution of such processes.

Thus, our Special Issue will cover a broad range of relevant topics of interest. Insights related to the following aspects will be included in this Special Issue:

  1. Mineral alteration: dissolution and redistribution of primary mineral phases and precipitation/neoformation of secondary minerals;
  2. Physico-chemical properties modification (cation exchange capacity, cation exchange population, surface complexation, crystallochemical structure, layer charge and swelling ability);
  3. Microstructure changes affecting sorption processes (porosity, water adsorption, ion exchange, radionuclide sorption, etc.);
  4. Clayrock- or Bentonite-groundwater interactions;
  5. Changes in pore water chemistry;
  6. Corrosion and metal/interface processes;
  7. Smectite and other clay mineral structural stability;
  8. Redox Chemistry and redox state evolution, affecting the structural stability and speciation of dissolved ions and radionuclides;
  9. Influence of gases produced and consumed under oxidized and reducing conditions and/or a desaturation phase on geochemistry/mineralogy;
  10. Organics and their influence on geochemistry/mineralogy;
  11. Microbial-mediated mineral alteration and geochemical evolution;
  12. Geochemical modeling, reactive transport and computational quantum mechanical modeling.

Dr. Ana María Fernández
Dr. Stephan Kaufhold
Prof. Dr. Markus Olin
Dr. Lian-Ge Zheng
Dr. Paul Wersin
Dr. James Wilson
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Minerals is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • bentonite
  • clayrocks
  • clay–water interaction
  • temperature influence
  • mineral alteration
  • geochemistry
  • clay properties
  • microstructure
  • CEC
  • pore water
  • gas
  • redox
  • organics
  • microbes
  • waste disposal
  • geochemical modeling

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission, see below for planned papers.

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

1. Title: Bentonite, clay-water interaction, temperature influence, mineral alteration, waste disposal and geochemical modelling

Authors: Carme Chaparro

2. Title: Stability of smectite: How KCl, K-acetate and K-oxalate influences the formation of 10 Å-layers

Authors: Georg Grathoff, Julia Schlosser, Stephan Kaufhold

3. Title: Reaction and alteration of mudstone with OPC and Low Alkali Cement pore fluids

Authors: Keith Bateman, Y. Amano, Y. Tachi, H. Beppu, T. Endo, M. Kubota, and Y. Ohuchi

4. Title: Modelling of laboratory experiments with Comsol Multiphysics to support understanding of coupled THM processes

Authors: Asta Narkūnienė, Povilas Poskas, Darius Justinavicius

5. Title: Comparitive study of rock and fracture properties in excavation damaged zones

Authors: M. Williams, M. Ploetze, M. Zieger, S. Loew

6. Title: Multi-scale imaging of fractures from excavation damaged zones and implications for self-sealing in clay

Authors: M. Williams, M. Ziegler, S. Loew

7. Title: Cation exchange processes observed in the third excavated parcel of the Alternative Buffer Material test (ABM-5) in Äspö, Sweden, after heating to 250 °C

Authors: Reiner Dohrmann, Jens Gröger-Trampe; Stephan Kaufhold

8. Title: Ex and In situ reactivity and sorption of selenium in the presence of Opalinus Clay and stainless steel

Authors: Nele Bleyen, J. Small, K. Hendrix, V. Van Gompel, A. Albrecht, P. De Cannière, C. Wittebroodt, C. Bruggeman, E. Valcke

9. Title: Eu(III) as Spectro-Structural Probe for Time-, pH and Background Electrolyte Dependent Sorption and Phase Alteration on/of Ca-Montmorillonite

Authors: Michael Kumke, Sean Martin McGee

10. Title: MiniSandwich experiments at Mont Terri Rock Laboratory

Authors: Katja Emmerich

11 Title: Interactions between iron and the Tournemire argillite at 70 °C

Authors: Laurent De Windt

12. Title: FEBEX-bentonite surface alterations under different types of cement base material

Authors: Daniel Gonzalez Santamaría, Jaime Cuevas, Raul Fernández, Ana Isabel Ruiz, Juan Diego Rodriguez Blanco

13. Title: Mineralogy in the ABM-5 Experiment

Authors: Stephan Kaufhold, Dohrmann, Svensson, Sellin

14. Title: Investigation of the relation of dry density, swelling pressure, and hydraulic conductivity of selected bentonites

Authors: Ola Karnland, Kaufhold, Dohrmann

15. Title: Results from the ABM Experiment at Aspo Rock Laboratory

Authors: Paul Wersin, Hadi Jebril

16. Title: Pore water chemistry from bentonites and Clayrocks. A critical review

Authors: Ana María Fernández

17. Title: Geochemistry in the FEBEX in situ test at the Grimsel test Site

Authors: Ana María Fernández

18. Title: Gel formation at the front of expanding calcium bentonites

Authors: K.A. Daniels <[email protected]>, J.F. Harrington, S.J. Kemp, A.E. Milodowski, P. Sellin

19. Title: Smectite stability and zeolite formation in laboratory experiments with Wyoming bentonite, Opalinus Clay, and ordinary Portland cement

Authors: Kirsten Sauer, Florie Caporuscio, Carlos Jove Colon, Marlena Rock (Los Alamos National Laboratory, USA). E-mail: [email protected]

20. Title: Geochemical and geotechnical changes in Mg/Ca bentonite after thermal treatment at 150 °C,

Authors: Vlastislav KAŠPAR, Šárka ŠACHLOVÁ, Eva HOFMANOVÁ, Václava HAVLOVÁ. (ÚJV Řež, a. s. / Nuclear Research Institute, Czech Republic). E-mail: [email protected]

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