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The influence of layer charge and charge distribution of dioctahedral smectites on the rheological and swelling properties of bentonites is examined. Layer charge and charge distribution were determined by XRD using the LayerCharge program [Christidis, G.E., Eberl, D.D., 2003. Determination of layer charge characteristics of smectites. Clays Clay Miner. 51, 644–655.]. The rheological properties were determined, after sodium exchange using the optimum amount of Na2CO3, from free swelling tests. Rheological properties were determined using 6.42% suspensions according to industrial practice. In smectites with layer charges of − 0.425 to − 0.470 per half formula unit (phfu), layer charge is inversely correlated with...