Clay Minerals Laboratory (ClayLab)


Clay Minerals Laboratory (ClayLab) of the Research Centre in Kraków is a team of experienced scientists supported by highly skilled technicians and lab assistants. The ClayLab analytical part consists of six lab units:

  • X-ray Diffraction Laboratory (XRD)
  • Noble Gas Laboratory (K-Ar)
  • Thermogravimetry, infrared spectroscopy and mass spectroscopy Laboratory (TG-IR-MS)
  • High-pressure gas adsorption and rock porosimetry Laboratory (IsoSorp)
  • Molecular modeling
  • Chemical and clay minerals separation Laboratory

1. X-ray Diffraction Laboratory with two diffractometers: Thermo Electron X'TRA diffractometer equipped with an automatic sample changer and a home-made environmental chamber and Bruker D8 advance series II equipped with high-temperature chamber. The XRD lab provides world-top quality bulk mineral quantitative analysis data using in-house proprietary software and mineral standards and Rietveld program, and the detailed qualitative and quantitative clay minerals analyses on separated fractions. 


2. Noble gases spectrometry and K-Ar dating laboratory with two gas extraction lines, mineral heating chamber, and the Nu Instruments Noblesse noble gases spectrometer. The lab provides routine K-Ar dating of diagenetic events on illite and illite-smectite, syn-sedimentary processes on glauconite, detrital components and provenance studies on coarse micas.

3. Thermogravimetry combined with mass spectrometry (MS) and infrared spectroscopy (IR) lab (sponsored by RegPot EU programme). State-of-the-art TA Discovery IR with minimal thermal drift allows precise analyses < 20 mg samples under various gases atmosphere, including H2O-rich, from room temperature to 1200°C. The evolved gas is measured by MS or IR, or both simultaneously. Interactions of a clay thin film with various vapors are analyzed in-situ with an ATR stage in real time, while DRIFT chamber allows tracking in-situ alterations up to 900°C.


4. Shale porosimetry and gas adsorption lab (sponsored by Chevron ETC, Houston, USA) are equipped in a brand new low-/high pressure gas adsorption unit ISOsorp by Rubotherm allowing adsorption measurement of various gases (nitrogen, CO2, methane, hydrogen) from vacuum to 150 bar pressure, at 25 to 200°C on mg-size samples. An in-house made saturation system combined with the balances and moisture analyzer provide porosity measurements on shale samples.

5. Molecular modeling unit equipped with three Dell PowerEdge R720 servers performs computer simulations for the purpose of supporting interpretation of experimental results provided by other units.


6. Clays separation and chemical analysis lab undertakes rocks pretreatment and clay minerals separation and purification, in various modes, the cation exchange capacity measurement, basic chemical analyses of selected cations in rocks and brines. The lab is equipped with centrifuges and ultra-speed centrifuges, flow centrifuge, UV-VIS spectrometer, Sherwood 420 high-quality flame photometer, water baths, shakers, hot plates with stirrers, etc.


Research Staff:

PhD students:

Technical Staff:


The ClayLab team leads and participates in numerous projects

  • Revealing geological history based on geochronological data from clay minerals, mostly K-Ar dating of illite-smectite. ClayLab team leader: Jan Środoń.
  • Deciphering the Ediacaran environment from unaltered clastic sedimentary rocks of the East European Craton. ClayLab leader: Jan Środoń.
  • Gas- and oil-shale total and effective porosity; adsorbed versus free gas potential. ClayLab leader: Arkadiusz Derkowski.
  • Dehydroxylation and rehydroxylation of clay minerals. ClayLab leader: Arkadiusz Derkowski.
  • The mechanism of dehydrogenation and dehydroxylation in chlorites, PRELUDIUM 14, No 2017/27/N/ST10/02544. ClayLab project leader: Małgorzata Lempart.
  • The mechanism of methane adsorption on clay minerals under geological conditions, PRELUDIUM 13, No 2017/25/N/ST10/02034. ClayLab project leader: Paweł Ziemiański.
  • The mechanism and kinetics of rehydroxylation in calcined clay minerals as a key to a new method of archaeological dating of ceramics (RHX-Clay), OPUS 13, No 2017/25/B/ST10/01675. ClayLab project leader: Arkadiusz Derkowski.
  • Molecular modeling of smectite-water-ethylene glycol interactions. ClayLab leader: Marek Szczerba.
  • Water-clay interactions: experimentals data and molecular modeling. ClayLab team leaders: Arkadiusz Derkowski & Marek Szczerba.


Recent papers of the ClayLab team


  • Luberda-Durnaś K, Szczerba M., Lempart M., Ciesielska Z., and Derkowski A.  Layers stacking disorder in Mg-Fe chlorites based on powder X-ray diffraction data. American Mineralogist, under review.
  • Lempart M., Derkowski A., Strączek T., Kapusta Cz. Systematics of H2 and H2O evolved from chlorites during oxidative dehydrogenation. American Mineralogist, under review.
  • A Koteja, J Matusik, K Luberda-Durnaś, M Szczerba, 2019, The Nature of Interactions and UV-Induced Response within &#945;-Zirconium Phosphate Intercalation Compounds with Azobenzenes. Materials 12 (9), 1436
  • H Hercman, M Szczerba, P Zawidzki, A Trojan, 2019, Carbon isotopes in wood combustion/pyrolysis products: experimental and molecular simulation approaches, Geochronometria 46 (1), 111-124
  • K Kołtonik, P Isaacson, A Pisarzowska, M Paszkowski, C Augustsson, M Szczerba, J Slama, B Budzyń, M Stachacz, W Krawczyński, 2019, Provenance of upper Paleozoic siliciclastics rocks from two high-latitude glacially influenced intervals in Bolivia. Journal of South American Earth Sciences 92, 12-31
  • Środoń J., O Kuzmenkova, JJ Stanek, S Petit, D Beaufort, HA Gilg, S Liivamägi, M Goryl, L Marynowski, M Szczerba, 2019, Hydrothermal alteration of the Ediacaran Volyn-Brest volcanics on the western margin of the East European Craton. Precambrian Research 325, 217-235
  • Środoń J., Derkowski A., Goryl M., Marynowski L., Szczerba M., and Mazur S.  Long-distance fluids migration defines diagenetic history of unique Ediacaran sediments in the East European Craton. Chemical Geology, under review.
  • Lempart M., Manecki M., Kwaśniak-Kominek M., Matusik J., Bajda T., (2019); Accommodation of the carbonate ion in lead hydroxyl arsenate (hydroxylmimetite) Pb5(AsO4)3OH, Polyhedron, 161, 330-337.


  • Kuligiewicz, A., Derkowski, A., Środoń, J., Gionis, V., Chryssikos, G.D. (2018) The charge of wettable illite-smectite surfaces measured with the O-D method. Applied Clay Science, 161, 354-363.
  • M.Lempart, A.Derkowski, K. Luberda-Durnaś, M.Skiba, A.Błachowski (2018) Dehydrogenation and dehydroxylation as drivers of the thermal decomposition of Fe-chlorites; American Mineralogist, 103, 1837-1850.
  • Milliken K.L, McCarty D.K., and Derkowski A. (2018) Grain assemblages and diagenesis in the tarl-dominated lower Silurian mudrock succession of the western margin of the east European craton in Poland and Lithuania. Sedimentary Geology,374, 115-133.
  • Goryl M., Marynowski L., Brocks J.J, Bobrovskiy I., and Derkowski A. (2018) Exceptional preservation of hopanoid and steroid biomarkers in Ediacaran sedimentary rocks of the East European Craton. Precambrian Research,316, 38-47.
  • Derkowski A. and Marynowski, L. (2018) Binding of heavy metals by oxidised kerogen in (palaeo)weathered black shales. Chemical Geology, 493, 441-450.
  • Skiba M., Skiba S., Derkowski A., Maj-Szeliga K., and Dziubińska B. (2018) Formation of NH4-illite-like phase at the expense of dioctahedral vermiculite in soil and diagenetic environments – an experimental approach. Clays and Clay Minerals, 66, 74-85.
  • K Kołtonik, A Pisarzowska, M Paszkowski, J Sláma, RT Becker, M Szczerba, W Krawczyński, S Hartenfels, L Marynowski (2018) Baltic provenance of top-Famennian siliciclastic material of the northern Rhenish Massif, Rhenohercynian zone of the Variscan orogen International Journal of Earth Sciences 107 (8), 2645-2669.
  • S Liivamägi, J Środoń, MJ Bojanowski, A Gerdes, JJ Stanek, L Williams, M Szczerba, Paleosols on the Ediacaran basalts of the East European Craton: A unique record of paleoweathering with minimum diagenetic overprint  (2018) Precambrian Research 316, 66-82

  • M Szczerba, K Ufer, New model of ethylene glycol intercalate in smectites for XRD modelling (2018), Applied Clay Science 153, 113-123


  • Derkowski A. and McCarty D.K. (2017) Cesium, a water-incompatible, siloxane-complexed cation in the Earth's upper crust. Geology, 45, 899-902.
  • Topór, T., Derkowski, A., Ziemiański, P., Marynowski, L., McCarty, D.K., 2017a. Multi-variable constraints of gas exploration potential in the Lower Silurian shale of the Baltic Basin (Poland). Int. J. Coal Geol. 179, 45–59. doi:10.1016/j.coal.2017.05.001
  • Topór, T., Derkowski, A., Ziemiański, P., Szczurowski, J., McCarty, D.K., 2017b. The effect of organic matter maturation and porosity evolution on methane storage potential in the Baltic Basin (Poland) shale-gas reservoir. Int. J. Coal Geol. 180, 46–56. doi:10.1016/j.coal.2017.07.005
  • Derkowski A., Kuligiewicz A. (2017) Rehydroxylation in smectites and other clay minerals observed in-situ with a modified thermogravimetric system. Applied Clay Science, 136, 219-229.
  • Kuligiewicz, A., Derkowski A. (2017) Tightly bound water in smectites. American Mineralogist, 102, 1073-1090.
  • M.Labus, M.Lempart (2017) Studies of Polish Paleozoic shale rocks using FTIR and TG/DSC methods, Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering, vol. 161, pp.311-318.
  • Kwaśniak-Kominek M., Manecki M., Matusik J., Lempart M. (2017) Carbonate substitution in lead hydroxyapatite Pb5(PO4)3OH; Journal of Molecular Structure ,vol. 1147, pp.594-602.

  • Marynowski L., Pisarzowska A., Derkowski A., Rakociński M., Szaniawski R., Środoń J., and Cohen A.S. (2017) Influence of palaeoweathering on trace metal concentrations and environmental proxies in black shales. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 472, 177-191.

  • A Koteja, M Szczerba, J Matusik (2017) Smectites intercalated with azobenzene and aminoazobenzene: Structure changes at nanoscale induced by UV light, Journal of Physics and Chemistry of Solids 111, 294-303


  • Szczerba, M., Kuligiewicz, A., Derkowski, A., Gionis, V., Chryssikos, G.D., Kalinitchev, A.G. (2016) Structure and dynamics of water-smectite interfaces: Hydrogen bonding and the origin of the sharp O-Dw/O-Hw infrared band from molecular simulations, Clays and Clay Minerals, 64, 452-471.
  • Derkowski A. and Marynowski L. (2016) Reactivation of cation exchange capacity in black shales. International Journal of Coal Geology, 158, 65–77.

  • Drits V.A., Derkowski A., Sakharov B.A., and Zviagina B.B. (2016) Experimental evidence of the formation of intermediate phases during transition of kaolinite into metakaolinite. American Mineralogist, 101, 2331-2346.

  • Topór T.*, Derkowski A., Kuila U.*, Fischer T.B., and McCarty D.K. (2016) Dual liquid porosimetry: porosity measurement method for oil and gas bearing shales. Fuel, 183, 537–549.

  • M Szczerba, AG Kalinichev (2016) Intercalation of ethylene glycol in smectites: Several molecular simulation models verified by X-ray diffraction data, Clays and Clay Minerals 64 (4), 488-502


  • Szczerba M., Derkowski A., Kalinichev A.G., and Środoń J. (2015) Molecular modeling of the effects of 40Ar recoil in illite particles on their K-Ar isotope dating. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 159, 162–176.
  • McCarty D.K., Theologou P.N., Fischer T.B., Derkowski A., Stokes M.R., and Ollila A. (2015) Mineral-chemistry quantification and petrophysical calibration for multimineral evaluations: A nonlinear approach. AAPG Bulletin, 99, 1371–1397.

  • Drits V.A. and Derkowski A. (2015) Kinetic behavior of partially dehydroxylated kaolinite. American Mineralogist, 100, 883–896.
  • Kuligiewicz A., Derkowski A., Szczerba M., Gionis V., Chryssikos G.D. (2015) Revisiting the infrared spectrum of the water-smectite interface, Clays and Clay Minerals, 61, 15-29.
  • Kuligiewicz A., Derkowski A., Emmerich K., Christidis G.E., Tsiantos V., Gionis V., Chryssikos G.D. (2015) Measuring the layer charge of dioctahedral smectite by O-D vibrational spectroscopy, Clays and Clay Minerals, 61, 443-456.


  • Szymański W., Skiba M., Nikorych V.A., Kuligiewicz A. (2014) Nature and formation of interlayer fillings in clay minerals in Albeluvisols from the Carpathian Foothills, Poland, Geoderma, 235-236, 396-409.
  • Derkowski A., Środoń J., and McCarty D.K. Cation exchange capacity and water content of opal in sedimentary basins: example from the Monterey Formation, California. American Mineralogist in press.
  • Drits V.A. and Derkowski A. Kinetic behavior of partially dehydroxylated kaolinite. American Mineralogist in press.
  • Kuila U., McCarty D.K., Derkowski A., Fischer T.B., Topor T., and Prasad M. Nano-scale texture and porosity of organic matter and clay minerals in gas shales. Fuel, in press.
  • Lee S, Fischer T.B., Stokes R.M., Klingler R.J., Ilavsky J., McCarty D.K., Wigand M.O., Derkowski A., and Winans R.E. Dehydration effect on pore size, porosity, and fractal parameters of shale rocks: USAXS study. Energy and Fuels, in press.
  • Derkowski A., Szczerba M., Środoń J. and Banaś M. (2014) Radiogenic Ar retention in residual silica from acid-treated micas. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 128, 236-248.
  • Szczerba M., Kłapyta Z., Kalinichev A. (2014) Ethylene glycol intercalation in smectites. Molecular dynamics simulation studies. Applied Clay Science, 91, 87-87 .


  • Kuila U., McCarty D.K., Derkowski A., Fischer T.B., and Prasad M. (2013) Total porosity measurement in gas shales by the water immersion porosimetry (WIP) method. Fuel, 117, B, 1115-1129.
  • Derkowski A., Bristow T.F., Wampler J.M., Środoń J, Marynowski L., Elliott W.C., and Chamberlain C.P. (2013) Hydrothermal alteration of the Ediacaran Doushantuo Formation in the Yangtze Gorges area (South China). Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 107, 279-298
  • Środoń J., Drygant D.M., Anczkiewicz A.A. and Banaś M. (2013) Thermal history of the Silurian in the Podolia segment of the SW margin of the East European Craton inferred from combined XRD, K-Ar, and AFT data. Clays and Clay Minerals 61, 107-132.
  • Anczkiewicz A., Środoń J. and Zattin M. (2013) Thermal history of the Podhale basin in the Internal Western Carpathians from the perspective of apatite fission track analyses. Geologica Carpathica 64, 151-161.
  • Williams L., Środoń J., Huff W., Clauer N., Hervig R. (2013) Light element distributions (N, B, Li) in Baltic Basin bentonites record organic sources. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 120, 582-599. 
  • Środoń J. (2013) Identification and Quantitative Analysis of Clay Minerals. Chapter 2.2 in Handbook of Clay Science, Developments in Clay Science 5, F. Bergaya and G. Lagaly, eds., Elsevier, pp. 25-50.
  • Deng Y., Liu L., Barrientos Velázquez A.L., Szczerba M., Dixon J.B. (2013) Interactions of Aflatoxin B1 with Smectites: Interlayer Accessibility, Bonding Mechanisms, and Size Matching, in: Aflatoxin Control: Safeguarding Animal Feed with Calcium Smectite, J.B. Dixon, A.L. Barrientos Velázquez, Y. Deng (eds). pp. 67. American Society of Agronomy and Soil Science Society of America, Madison, USA


  • Drits V.A., McCarty D.K., and Derkowski A. (2012) Mixed-layered structure formation during trans-vacant Al-rich illite dehydroxylation. American Mineralogist, 97, 1922-1938.
  • Derkowski A. and Bristow T.F. (2012) On the problems of total specific surface area and cation exchange capacity measurements in organics-rich sedimentary rocks. Clays and Clay Minerals, 60, 348-362.
  • Drits V.A., Derkowski A., and McCarty D.K. (2012) Kinetics of partial dehydroxylation in dioctahedral 2:1 layer clay minerals. American Mineralogist, 97, 930-950.
  • Derkowski A., Drits V.A., and McCarty D.K. (2012) Nature of rehydroxylation in dioctahedral 2:1 layer clay minerals. American Mineralogist, 97, 610-629.
  • Derkowski A., Drits V.A., and McCarty D.K. (2012) Rehydration in a dehydrated-dehydroxylated smectite in environment of low water vapor content. American Mineralogist, 97, 110-127.
  • Kuila U., Prasad M., Derkowski, A., and McCarty D.K. (2012) Compositional Controls on Mudrock Pore-Size Distribution: An Example from Niobrara Formation. SPE Conference Paper, 160141-MS, pp. 16.
  • Środoń J. and Kawiak T. (2012) Mineral compositional trends, petrophysical and well logging parameters, and the composition of pore water in clastic rocks from shallow burial (Miocene of the Carpathian Foredeep, SE Poland) revealed by QUANTA+BESTMIN analysis. Clays and Clay Minerals 60, 63-75.
  • Zeelmaekers E., Vandenberghe N., Środoń J., 2012. Presence of bentonite beds in the earliest Eocene Tienen Formation in Belgium as evidenced by clay mineralogical analyses. Proceedings of the Climate and Biota of the Early Paleogene Conference. Austrian Journal of Earth Sciences, 105


  • Bristow T.F., Bonifacie M., Derkowski A., Eiler J.M. and Grotzinger J.P. (2011) A hydrothermal origin for isotopically anomalous cap dolostone cements from South China. Nature, June 2 2011, 747, 68-72.
  • Drits V.A., Derkowski A., and McCarty D.K. (2011) Kinetics of thermal transformation of partially dehydroxylated pyrophyllite. American Mineralogist, 96, 1054-1069.
  • Drits V.A., Derkowski A., and McCarty D.K. (2011) New insight into the structural transformation of partially dehydroxylated pyrophyllite. American Mineralogist, 96, 153-171.
  • Raiswell R., Reinhard C.T., Derkowski A., Owens, J., Bottrell S.H., Anbar A.D., Lyons T.W. (2011) Formation of syngenetic and early diagenetic iron minerals in the late Archean Mt. McRae Shale, Hamersley Basin, Australia: New insights on the patterns, controls and paleoenvironmental implications of authigenic mineral formation. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 75, 1072-1087.
  • Zorski T., Ossowski A., Środoń J. and Kawiak T. (2011) Evaluation of mineral composition and petrophysical parameters by the integration of core analysis data and wireline well log data: the Carpathian Foredeep case study. Clay Minerals 46, 1-21. 
  • Środoń J., Paszkowski M. , 2011. Role of clays in diagenetic history of boron and nitrogen in the Carboniferous of Donbas (Ukraine). Clay Minerals, 46: 561-582.
  • Deng Y., Szczerba M. (2011) Computational evaluation of bonding between aflatoxin B1 and smectite, Applied Clay Science, 54, 26-33.
  • Skiba M., Szczerba M., Skiba S., Bish D.L., Grybos M. (2011) The Nature Of Interlayering In Clays From A Podzol (Spodosol) From The Tatra Mountains, Poland, Geoderma, 160, 425-433.


  • Derkowski A. and McCarty D.K. (2010) ChemRock-BestRock: Advanced Tools for Formation Evaluation. bLog Formation Evaluation Network Newsletter - Chevron ETC, 1(4), 5-8, feature article.
  • Drits V.A., Ivanovskaya T.A., Sakharov B.A., Zvyagina B.B., Derkowski A., Gor'kova N.V., Pokrovskaya E.V., Savichev A.T., and Zaitseva T.S. (2010) Nature of the Structural and Crystal-Chemical Heterogeneity of the Mg-Rich Glauconite (Riphean, Anabar Uplift). Lithology and Mineral Resources, 45(6), 555-576.
  • Szczerba M., Środoń J., Skiba M., Derkowski A. (2010) One-dimensional structure of exfoliated polymer-layered silicate nanocomposites: A polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) case study.  Applied Clay Science, 47(3-4), 235-241.
  • Środoń J. (2010) Evolution of mixed-layer clay minerals in prograde alteration systems. Pp. 139-173 In: "Interstratified Clay Minerals: Origin, Characterization and Geochemical Significance" (S. Fiore, J. Cuadros & F.J. Huertas Eds.), Digilabs, Bari, Italy.
  • Środoń J. (2010) Evolution of boron and nitrogen content during illitization of bentonites. Clays & Clay Minerals 58, 743-756.
  • Szczerba M., Rospondek M. (2010) Controls of distributions of methylphenanthrenes in sedimentary rock extracts: insights from molecular modelling and critical evaluation of existing geological data, Organic Geochemistry, 41, 1297-1311.


  • Derkowski A., Środoń J., Franus W., Uhlik P., Banaś M., Zieliński G., Čaplovičová M., Franus M. (2009) Partial dissolution of glauconitic samples: implications for the methodology of K-Ar and Rb-Sr dating. Clays and Clay Minerals, 57, 531-554.
  • Bristow T.F., Kennedy M., Derkowski A., Droser M., Jiang G., Creaser R. (2009) Paleoenvironments of the earliest animal fossils. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, 106(32):13190-5.
  • Środoń J., Zeelmaekers E., Derkowski A. (2009) The charge of component layers of illite-smectite in bentonites and the nature of end-member illite. Clays and Clay Minerals, 57, 650-672.
  • Środoń J., Clauer N., Huff W., Dudek T. and Banaś M. (2009) K-Ar dating of Ordovician bentonites from the Baltic Basin and the Baltic Shield: implications for the role of temperature and time in the illitization of smectite. Clay Minerals 44, 361-387.
  • Somelar P., Kirsimäe K. and Środoń J. (2009) Mixed-layer illite-smectite in the Kinnekulle bentonite, northern Baltic Basin. Clay Minerals 44, 455-468.
  • Środoń J. (2009) Quantification of illite and smectite and their layer charges in sandstones and shales from shallow burial depth. Clay Minerals 44, 421-434.
  • Szczerba M., Sawłowicz Z. (2009) Origin of cerussite in the Upper Silesian Zn-Pb deposits, Poland, Mineralogia, 40, 54-64.
  • Szczerba M., Środoń J. (2009) Extraction of diagenetic and detrital ages and of 40Kdetrital/40Kdiagenetic ratio from K-Ar ages of clay fractions, Clays and Clay Minerals, 57, 46-56.