Strain localization is central to the transition between continental rifting and seafloor spreading. In the East African Rift System (EARS), there is an emerging understanding of the link between extensional pulses and magmatic episodes. We investigate modern magmatism located within the Turkana Depression and its relationship with the distribution of extensional strain. We probe the source of magmatism at South Island volcano using bulk rock, melt inclusion and olivine geochemical data and find that the magmas are derived from sub-lithospheric sources equivalent to magmatism in the more mature sectors of the rift. The depth extent of the magmatic plumbing system of South Island is constrained using vapour saturation pressures derived from bubble-corrected H2O and CO2 concentrations in melt inclusions and the results indicate a magmatic system resembling modern axial volcanic systems observed in other parts of the EARS. The zone of focused axial magmatism that South Island represents has evolved contemporaneously with a region of focused axial faulting that has accommodated the majority of regional Holocene extension and subsidence at this latitude. We conclude that at South Island there has been a migration of magmatic and tectonic strain towards the modern zone of focused intrusion along this portion of the EARS.

Supplementary material: S1–S2 image files, data table files S3–S6 and caption file S7 are available at

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