Differentiation of Natrocarbonatite Magma at Oldoinyo Lengai Volcano, Tanzania

J. Gittins and B. C. Jago
Department of Geology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5S 3B1
Lakefleld Research Ltd., Postal Bag 4300, 185 Concession Street, Lakefield, Ontario, Canada K0L 2H0

Abstract: Natrocarbonatite magma, erupted as lava flows in the Tanzanian volcano Oldoinyo Lengai in June and November of 1988, has evolved chemically since its formation. The June and November flows of 1988 display increasing Cl, F, Ba, K, Mg and Mn, concomitantly with Na, Ca and P depletion. Furthermore, the June magma, at the time of eruption, had higher Cl, F, Ba and K contents and lower Ca than the November magma and evolved to higher levels of Cl, F, Ba and K content and lower Ca, Na and P. The mineralogy of the lavas reflects these trends. Crystallization of fluorite and halite-sylvite solid solution, usually as a symplectic intergrowth, occurs when Cl and F concentrations reach the critical value necessary to stabilize both minerals and explains why neither occurs as a phenocryst phase. Natrocarbonatite magma has undergone considerable and rapid magmatic evolution, probably in small and separate magma chambers. Two minerals, nyerereite and gregoryite, have dominated the crystallization history of natrocarbonatite magma, and many lavas are phenocryst-rich. However, because most of the lavas are composed principally of these two minerals, crystal accumulation has not greatly changed their composition and, consequently, we suggest that the bulk composition of the lavas closely approximates that of the parental magma.

Keywords: natrocarbonatite • Oldoinyo Lengai • magmatic evolution

Mineralogical Magazine; December 1998 v. 62; no. 6; p. 759-768; DOI: 10.1180/002646198548142
© 1998, The Mineralogical Society
Mineralogical Society (www.minersoc.org)