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Letters to Nature
Nature 294, 644 - 645 (17 December 1981); doi:10.1038/294644a0

An oceanic carbonatite volcano on Santiago, Cape Verde Islands

L. Celestino Silva*, M. J. Le Bas & A. H. F. Robertson

*Junta de Investigações Científica do Ultramar, Laboratório de Estudos Petrológicos e Paleontológicos, Lisbon 1000, Portugal
Department of Geology, The University, Leicester LE1 7RH, UK
Grant Institute of Geology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH9 3JW, UK

Carbonatite volcanoes are rare, the only active one being at Oldoinyo Lengai in northern Tanzania1 although a few dead volcanic centres with recognizable carbonatitic extrusive materials are known elsewhere in Africa2–6 and one in Germany7. During an expedition in 1980 to the Cape Verde Islands, in the Central Atlantic Ocean 500 km west of Senegal, the eroded remains of a carbonatite volcano were discovered on the island of Santiago just north of Tarrafal at Arruela (Fig. 1). This, the first example of an oceanic carbonatitic volcanic pyro-clastic structure, shows typical carbonatite mineralogy and geochemistry, and demonstrates that carbonatite magmas can be generated in the oceanic lithosphere as well as in the continents.

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