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Clay consists of at least 25% of particles smaller than 2 micrometers. These particles are called silt. In contrast to the larger clastic sediments, clay is made up of plate-like particles that are held together by electrostatic forces. As a result, the particles stick to each other so that actual erosion of clay is more difficult once it has been deposited. Clay is composed of clay minerals such as: Illite, Kaolinite, and Smectite. These clay minerals are the weathering products of quartz sediments.

Clay can only be deposited in calm water conditions. Tidal clay however, is predominantly deposited during neap tides. Clay is mainly deposited in deltas, tidal areas and flooded areas along rivers. Clay has a very poor permeability. Clay layers in the subsurface can also disturb groundwater flows. It can also figure act as a protective layer for gas or oil accumulations.

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