- © 2014 by the Mineralogical Society of America
Kaolin has played a prominent role in both Earth and human cultural history, and will continue to do so into the foreseeable future. Its abundance in the rock record has varied according to the waxing and waning of life faunal radiations, crustal differentiation, and climatic conditions. Kaolin-group minerals play an important environmental role in soils of tropical and temperate regions. They also occur in hydrothermal zones, where they form at the expense of felsic rocks through acid hydrolysis, and commonly in episodic geologic events. Kaolin deposits form the basis of many modern materials, but the first sophisticated human use was in porcelains from Jingdezhen, China. From the initial discovery of kaolin and its sculptural use 2000 years ago to today's modern applications in nanocomposites, kaolin has been important throughout cultural history. Art and science are intertwined by the properties and uses of this amazingly small clay mineral.