Abstract

In 1962 Dawson described a calcite carbonatite (specimen BD83) from the Tanzanian volcano Oldoinyo Lengai as a sovite, thus implying that an earlier stage in its evolution this volcano had crystallized magmatic calciocarbonatites as well as the highly alkalic natrocarbonatite lava that has been erupted in more recent times. This proposition is difficult to reconcile with the currently fashionable hypothesis whereby the natrocarbonatite lava separated immiscibly from a type of nephelinite magma, most recently thought to be a wollastonite nephelinite. In 1993 Dawson sought to discredit the magmatic origin of this sovite specimen by arguing that it was derived from natrocarbonatite lava through extreme alteration (calcitization) in which process the original nyerereite was replaced by calcite in near-perfect pseudomorphs. We suggest that the arguments advanced in support of this concept are unconvincing and that the specimen is exactly what it was originally described as, namely a magmatic sovite in which the calcite crystallized from a magma rather than having replaced nyerereite. We do not seek to discredit the liquid immiscibility hypothesis but do believe that whatever process is responsible for the Oldoinyo Lengai natrocarbonatites and silicate rocks must also allow for the crystallization of calciocarbonatite.

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