Surface-area studies were made on several homoionic vermiculites with both nitrogen and carbon dioxide as adsorbates. These studies show that only very slight penetration occurs between individual vermiculite platelets. This is in contrast to an earlier investigation of montmorillonite where it was found that the degree of penetration between layers is quite high, particularly for carbon dioxide, and is governed by the size and charge of the interlayer cation. The inability of these adsorbates to penetrate substantially between vermiculite platelets is due primarily to this mineral's high surface-charge density.
The extent of penetration of nitrogen and carbon dioxide at the edges of vermiculite platelets, though slight, is influenced by the coordinated water retained within the sample at a given degassing temperature. Forces between layers are weakened with increasing water content, which permits slightly greater penetration by adsorbate gases. Thus, the surface area of vermiculite, as determined by gas adsorption, is larger than the calculated external surface area based upon particle size and shape considerations. In addition, "extra" surface is provided by the lifting and scrolling of terminal platelets. These morphological features are shown in scanning electron micrographs of a naturally occuring vermiculite.