Journal of Cave and Karst Studies - ISSN 1090-6924
Volume 66 Number 3: 98-101 - December 2004

A publication of the National Speleological Society

An unusual lava cave from Ol Doinyo Lengai, Tanzania
Donald A. McFarlane, Joyce Lundberg, and Frederick Belto


A new type of lava cave is described from the summit crater of Ol Doinyo Lengai, a unique active carbonatite volcano in Tanzania. This and other similar caves on Ol Doinyo Lengai are formed by thermal erosion and aqueous dissolution of otherwise solid spatter cones. Meteoritic water and endogenous condensates act to form speleothems of complex mineralogy up to 3 m in length. We propose the new classification of “polygenetic spatter cone cave”.

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