The behavior of fine-grained mineral systems is dependent on pore-fluid characteristics. The systematic physical analysis of previously published studies supports the development of a fabric map in the pH and ionic concentration space as a working hypothesis. This conceptual study is complemented with an extensive battery of tests where surface charge and particle interactions are controlled through pore-fluid characteristics. The macroscale tests include sedimentation, viscosity and liquid limit, and involve a wide range of solid volume fractions (suspension to sediment) and strain levels. Experimental results permit the development of an updated fabric map on the pH-ionic concentration space which takes into consideration all experimental results. The fabric map is structured around a critical pH level and a threshold ionic concentration beyond which van der Waals attraction prevails.