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Abstract Sepiolite is a hydrous magnesium silicate formed by precipitation of near-surface brackish or saline waters, under semi-arid climatic conditions. Four major influences on the distribution of sepiolite are source materials, climate, physical parameters and associated phase relations. Two major pathways governing the occurrence of sepiolite and palygorskite are direct precipitation from solution, and the transformation of precursor phases by dissolution–precipitation. Sepiolite is most commonly found as a result of the former process, whereas palygorskite is often characterized as a product of the latter. Thus, sepiolite typically occurs in lacustrine, often saline, strata, while palygorskite is commonly...