Use and abuse of the terms calcalkaline and calcalkalic

Richard J. Arculus*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    248 Citations (Scopus)


    The terms calcalkalic and calcalkalic are currently defined and used in multiple and non-equivalent ways. Generally, the variation of total Fe as FeO/MgO within evolving subalkaline rock suites is regarded as the most distinctive character of calcalkaline compared with tholeiitic suites, reflecting the relative timing of phase saturation with Fe-Ti oxides, plagioclase, and ferromagnesian silicates. Other classification schemes are widely used, including a minority of adherents to the original formalized definition of 'calcalkalic' by Peacock (1931, Journal of Geology 39, 54-67). Given the prevailing contradictory and confusing usage of these terms, which leads to miscommunication, it is proposed that the spectrum of subalkaline rocks be divided into high-, medium-, and low-Fe suites, complementing divisions made on the basis of K contents. The terms calcalkaline and calcalkalic should be restricted to rock suites that conform to Peacock's definition.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)929-935
    Number of pages7
    JournalJournal of Petrology
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - May 2003


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