any of a group of mica-type clay minerals widely distributed in marine shales and related sediments. Illite contains more water and less potassium than true micas, but it has a micalike sheet structure and is poorly crystallized. It may form a chemical series with both muscovite and montmorillonite; it is a weathering product of muscovite and alters to montmorillonite under humid conditions. For chemical formula and detailed structure and physical properties, see clay mineral (table); mica (table)
Learn more about illite with a free trial on Britannica.com.