The origin and formation of clays plays a key role in earth science and is studied extensively in the context of global hydrological processes (earth-atmosphere interactions) and in the functioning of the rhizosphere and soil microbiome.  Engineering properties and rheological behavior of clays are of great importance in applications from the construction industry to waste containment facilities, geoenvironmental remediation, nuclear power and extractive industries (mining and hydrocarbons). Recent advances in multi-scale modeling and nano-scale characterization of materials offer new capabilities to understand the complex behavior of clays and to conceive new applications and products. The workshop "Clays: New Perspectives, Challenges & Opportunities" was held on May 2-3, 2019 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to address some of the most important challenges regarding multidisciplinary research on clays and clay systems. We have identified several distinct communities involved in applied research related to clay systems with surprisingly little interaction among them: geotechnical engineering, material engineering, geosciences, soft matter physics, and geoenvironmental sciences. This event has brought together experts from academia, research institutes, and government agencies to discuss some of the current challenges and opportunities linked to clay research at the intersections between different fields of expertise. We seek to synthesize the current state of research (perspectives, approaches, and techniques) for characterizing the mechanical, rheological, and geoenvironmental aspects of clays, and to bridge the existing gaps between these diverse communities to provide a consistent understanding of common or relevant challenges. 

Detailed programme can be found here

Workshop organizers:  Prof. Andrew Whittle and Dr. Ali Seiphoori

Financial support from the US Army Research Office for organizing this workshop is acknowledged. 

Group photo taken on May 2nd, 2019 at Killian Court, the MIT Great Dome. Thank you all for making this event a great success !