The petrology of the Kerimasi carbonatite volcano and the carbonatites of Oldoinyo Lengai with a review of other occurrences of extrusive carbonatites
Extrusive carbonatites are rare igneous rocks with just 37 known localities. The majority are calciocarbonatites, the principal exception being those of the active volcano, Oldoinyo Lengai, which are strongly alkaline. Unresolved questions concerning extrusive carbonatites include: 1. Why are extrusive carbonatites at Lengai chemically different from all others? 2. Could the extrusive calciocarbonatites originally have had alkaline compositions? In order to address these questions extrusive carbonatites from both Lengai and the adjacent volcano, Kerimasi, were collected and compared. A compilation of all the available data on known extrusive carbonatites is also presented. The major results documented in this thesis are: 1. Alkali carbonatites from Oldoinyo Lengai erupted in 1993 contain petrographic evidence for an origin by liquid immiscibility from a highly fractionated peralkaline silicate melt (wollastonite nephelinite). 2. The suite of silicate rocks at Kerimasi are derived from a primary olivine nephelinite by fractional crystallisation and cumulus processes. 3. Extrusive carbonatites at Kerimasi are not genetically related to the silicate suite. By contrast intrusive sovites also present, originated by liquid immiscibility from a primitive silicate magma, equivalent to a melilite, nephelinite, at low pressure. 4. Extrusive calciocarbonatites from Kerimasi were erupted directly from the mantle. They contain phenocrysts (previously interpreted as pseudomorphs after alkali carbonate) which are now thought to have been dolomite containing calcite exsolution lamellae. 5. Of the 35 other extrusive carbonatite occurrences, none show any petrographic or geochemical evidence of having originally being alkaline. Therefore extrusive carbonatites from Oldoinyo Lengai are thought to be unique. 6. Of the 37 extrusive carbonatites, 50% are associated with melilitites or melilitebearing rocks, 27% are associated with nephelinites and the remaining 23% were erupted with no associated silicate magmas.