Open access peer-reviewed chapter

Is a Volcanic Eruption Possible in Nigeria?

Written By

Uriah Lar, Isah Lekmang, Cedric Longpia and Mohammed Tsalha

Submitted: September 22nd, 2018 Reviewed: January 9th, 2019 Published: December 13th, 2019

DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.84253

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The Jos and Biu Plateaux volcanic provinces occupy the northeastern half of Nigeria bordering the Cameroon Volcanic Line, dotted with conspicuously visible number of dormant volcanoes with no reported activity. These dormant volcanoes represent potential future eruption sites. The ejecta materials of these volcanoes are essentially basaltic in composition and consist of sequence of pyroclastic materials, basalts, scoria and ash and are formed by strombolian and effusive styles of eruption. The volcanoes are represented by well-preserved cones and lava flows. In places the lava flows have been lateritized and eroded leaving remnants of weathered basalt boulders and a number of plugs and dome-like outcrops lacking any preserved cones. The basalts display essentially similar compositions consisting of phenocrysts of both olivine, plagioclase (bytownite–labradorite), with minor pyroxene (diopside-augite) embedded in a groundmass of plagioclase laths (labradorite), and accessory magnetite, ilmenite, k-feldspars, and volcanic glass. Geochemical data shows that these basalts are mainly alkaline olivine basalts derived from the deep mantle source enriched in incompatible elements similar to that of the Ocean Island basalts (OIB). Preliminary 40Ar-39Ar ages on the some of the basalts revealed Quaternary ages (Pleistocene epoch). The significant change in the composition of the Pidong Lake marked by decreasing pH is indicative of a probable input of juvenile fluids into the Lake. Also, the several incidences of volcanic eruptions along the close-by Cameroon volcanic line are pointers to the possibility for the reactivation of any of the dormant volcanoes in Nigeria. This work focuses on the need to assess the hazard level of some of these volcanoes for effective monitoring, disaster preparedness and land use planning as more people live and farm in these potentially endangered volcanic prone areas, unaware of the inherent risk.


  • volcanoes
  • eruption
  • Jos Plateau
  • Biu Plateau
  • Nigeria

1. Introduction

An inventory of all the volcanic prone areas on the Jos and Biu Plateaux were carried out, followed by detailed update of the Geology of two major volcanic areas on the Jos Plateau volcanic provinces (Kassa and Kerang volcanoes). The geochemistry (major, trace and REEs compositions) of these volcanoes were determined and a few dating using 40Ar-39Ar technique were performed on the Kassa basalts. Hydrogeochemical investigations of the Pidong Volcanic Crater Lake have also been carried out to constraint the chemical element sources into the Lake. Also, 40Ar-39Ar dating of the basalts of the Kassa volcanic field has revealed young ages spanning from 2.5, 1.97, 1.66, 1.39 to 1.34 Ma confirming the recent but short interval and multiple successive episodes of eruptions associated with volcanic activity in the region. Similar ages in the range of 2.1–0.9 Ma have been reported from basaltic rocks from the Benue Trough and a dolerite dyke from the region [1]. These same range of ages (of 2.83–0 Ma) have been obtained on basaltic rocks from the near-by Cameroon Volcanic Line (CVL) [1]. The Jos Plateau basalts vary in composition from basalt proper to trachyandesitic varieties of alkaline basalt magma series and some tholeiitic affinity [2]. Contrarily to the general notion that volcanoes are only associated with plate margins alone, the volcanoes in Nigeria are emplaced within the continent, associated with mantle Hot Spots. Records of gas emissions at Lakes Monoun and Nyos in Cameroon Republic in 1984 and 1986 respectively destroyed lives and properties within 14 km radius to a large extent, affected some communities in Nigeria (Mambilla Plateau and Katsina-Ala River banks) [3]. This research attempts to provide answers as to whether it is possible that the dormant volcanoes in Nigeria with no recorded history of eruption could roar back to life? Some reported successive minor volcanic activities within the Cameroon Volcanic Line (CVL) (1909, 1922, 1954, 1959 and 1982) are pointers to the possibility of the reactivation of some dormant volcanoes in Nigeria.


2. Geologic settings

An understanding of the geology is important in studying natural hazards related to volcanism because the geology influences tectonic movement which leads to the disequilibrium of the ecosystem and other environmental components.

The Nigeria-Cameroon Volcanic Provinces lie within the Pan-African collision belt of West Africa (Figure 1). In Nigeria, the volcanic provinces (Jos Plateau, Biu Plateau, Benue Valley, etc.) are confined to the northeastern and central regions [4]. The volcanic provinces are characterized by numerous volcanic cones and lava flows consisting of alkaline olivine basalts together with less important trachyte and phonolite intrusive rocks [5].

Figure 1.

Locations of the Jos and Biu Plateaux Volcanic Provinces, Nigeria.

Apparently, the large volcanic province of Nigeria suggests that volcanic activity during the Quaternary, was intense on the Jos Plateau, the Benue trough and along the northeast to southwest Cameroon line. Like the Jos Plateau volcanic regions, most of the main volcanic provinces such as the Bamenda Highlands, the Mambilla Plateau and the Adamawa Plateau are characterized by basement uplift [5].

The Cameroon Volcanic Line which extends from the Gulf of Guinea, Island of Annobon, Sao Tome and Principe and Fernando Po splits into two branches, one extending into northern Nigeria forming the Biu Plateau while the other extending eastward forming the Ngoude Plateau of Eastern Cameroun (Figure 1). Thus, in Nigeria, the volcanic provinces occur as relicts of volcanism in the form of scattered volcanic plugs and cones in some cases [5]. On the relatively uplifted Jos Plateau region, volcanic rocks are represented by volcanic cones and calderas [2].

Some of these cones generally rise only few hundred meters above the Plateau surface and are steep-sided with a central crater which may measure up to 450 m usually emerging at a breached in the crater wall. They are mainly built of basaltic scoria, volcanic ash, lava and with some variety of inclusions.


3. Materials and methods

3.1 Field mapping

Reconnaissance visits were carried out to past volcanic eruption sites where a careful and systematic mapping of each of the volcanoes visited were carried out so as to determine its nature, size and composition. Other information acquired was their physical surface weathering features, morphology, outcrop patterns and the extent of vegetation cover.

3.2 Petrographic and geochemical studies

Rock samples were collected for petrography, geochemistry and geochronology. Both petrographic and geochemical studies were done in the Department of Geology, University of Jos, Nigeria. 40Ar-39Ar dating on the basalts was done in Netherlands, Geological Survey Laboratory. For quality control, a duplicate geochemical analysis on the same basaltic rocks was carried out at the University of Cardiff, Wales using the Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectrometry (ICP-OES).

3.3 Hydrogeochemical monitoring study

A constant monitoring of the Pidong Crater Lake through continuous water sampling 24–36 calendar months was done. The following physical parameters were recorded in the field using MT 806/pH/EC/TDS/Temp portable meter (pH, Temperature, Electrical Conductivity (EC), Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)). The water samples were collected in 100 ml polyethylene plastic bottles for cations and anion analysis. The sample for cations analysis was acidified with 0.1 M Nitric acid to prevent precipitating and bacterial growth. The following cations: Mg, Ca, Na, K, Cr, Ni, Co, Sc, V, Cu, Pb, Zn, Bi, Cd, Sn, W, Ma, As, Sb, Rb, Cs, Ba, Sr., Ga, Li, Ta, Nb, Hf, Zr, Y, Th, U, B, Fe & REEs were analyzed using ICP-MS method at Bureau Veritas Minerals Laboratory Limited, Canada while the anions: SO4, Cl, HCO3, NO3, F, Br and PO4 were carried out using colometry method at Maxxam Laboratory, Vancouver, Canada (subsidiary of Bureau Veritas Ltd).

3.4 Isotope study

Oxygen-18 (∂18O) and deuterium (∂2H), and (∂3H) and Carbon-14 (14C) isotopes of the Pidong Crater Lake, Bwonpe Volcanic Spring and rainfall were analyzed at Activation Laboratory Ontario, Canada using cavity Ring down spectroscopy (CRDS) model L11 02-1 California, USA with V-SMOW standards with typical standards deviation for 18O ± 0.1% and 1% for Tritium unit (TU).


4. Field investigations

Field investigations have revealed the existence of about 22 dormant volcanoes on the Jos Plateau region alone (Table 1) and are generally aligned in series of NNW–SSE trend [6, 7, 8] (Figure 2). None of these volcanoes have record of any activity in recent past [8, 9]. They are composed mainly of basaltic scoria and pyroclastic materials.

S. No.Name/localityCoordinatesEstimated population of people at riskType of volcanoDiameter of craterElevation (ASL)Materials deposited
4Miango volcano IN09°51′.365″; E008°43′.961″For 1 & 2 250,000Cone350 m1297 mScoraceous basalt/pyoclastics
5Miango volcano IIN09 51. 000′; E008 44″. 191′Cone650 m1303 m‘’
6Kassa volcanoesHighest Peak: N09°36′.119″; E008°53′.521″100,000Cluster (6 overlapping volcanoes)Average 300 mAverage 1342 mOlivine basalt, scoria, tuff, breccia/volcanic bomb
7Sha 1N09° 10′. 543″;E008° 47′. 955″;20,000Dome200 m1310 mPyroclastics (granite fragments/lava)
8Sha 2N09°10′. 846″;E008° 48′. 05″;10,000Dome200 m1294 mWeathered basaltic materials capped by iron concretions
9PassakaiN09° 10′. 543″;E008° 47′. 955″10,000Dome300 m1375 mLateritized
10Wushik (Lakas) volcanoN09° 24′ 165″; E009° 10′ 554″10,500Cone250 m1300 mScoria/pyroclastics
11Kogul (Nyeis) volcanoN09° 22′ 573″;E009° 11′ 068″80,000Cone250 m1250 mScoria/pyroclastics
12Kerang IN09° 20′ 286″;E009° 11′ 643″;I to IV put together
Cone600 m1400 mScoria/basaltic rocks with large phenocrysts of olivine, garnet and pyroxene
13Kerang IIN09° 20′ 392″;E009° 11′ 502″;Cinder Cone1000 m1450 mScoria/basaltic rocks with large phenocrysts of olivine, garnet and pyroxene
14Kerang III volcano (Swan junction)N09° 20′ 306″;E009° 10′ 561″Cone1000 m1486 mScoria/pyroclastics
15Kerang IVN09° 11′ 283″;E008° 12′ 547″Cluster (with 2 craters)1.5 km1372 mPulverised basement and lava
16Pidong volcanoN09° 17′ 650″;E009° 12′ 312″50,000Crater Lake700 m1378 mScoria/pyroclastics
17Jiblik volcanoN09° 16′ 591″;E009° 16′ 890″100,000Cinder Cone1 km1228 mScoraceous basalt +garnet/pyroclastics
18Kagu volcanoN09° 13′ 901″; 008° 16′ 383″50,000Cone1 km1060 mScoraceous basalt/pyroclastics
19Katul volcanoN09° 11′ 264″;E009° 15′ 795″5000Cone700 m976 mScoraceous basalt/pyroclastics
20Lakdak7000coneScoraceous basalt/pyroclastics

Table 1.

Inventory of the volcanoes of the Jos Plateau, Nigeria.

Figure 2.

Geological map of the 22 dormant volcanoes of the Jos Plateau showing sample locations. M = Miango volcanoes, K = Kassa volcanoes, S = Sura volcanoes, and G = Gu volcanoes.

Tables 1 and 2 present the inventory of the dormant volcanoes on the Jos Plateau and the Biu Plateau, respectively. From the NNW end are the Ganawuri volcanic line, Hoss volcanic line, Panyam (Sura) volcanic line and Gu (Jiblik) volcanic line (Figure 2). The Ganawuri line comprises from the north to south of the Bum, Jal, and Kwakwi volcanoes. The Hoss volcanic line consists of two volcanoes; Miango in the north and Hoss volcano in the south. The Miango line consists of five volcanoes from the north to the south viz.: Rukuba, Miango north, Miango south, Vom and Kassa volcanoes. The Southern-most end members are namely the Panyam and Gu volcanic lines. The Panyam volcanic line consists of seven volcanoes aligned in a NNE–SSW trending directions along a hypothetical fracture line [6, 10]; Dai volcano (referred to as Wushik volcano), Amshel volcano (referred to as Kugol volcano), Dutsin volcano, Kerang volcano, Tingyaras volcano, Ampang volcano (referred to as Mufil volcano), Pidong Crater Lake.

S/No.Name/localityCoordinatesEstimated population of people at riskType of volcanoDiameter of craterElevation (asl)Materials deposited
1Tasha VillageN10°17′388″
5000Cluster of 3 volcanic cones.50 m426 m aslMassive basaltic rocks
2After Tasha VillageN10° 16′.661″
E011° 27′.143″
5000Dome427 mMassive/vesicular basaltic rocks
3Tagwaye (twin) volcanoes (In Kwaya Kusar LGA of Borno State)N10° 30′.530″
E011° 30′.402″
15,0002 Cones200 m512 mOlivine basalts/ Agglomerates.
4Gadam Volcano (Kwayar Kusar LGA, Borno State)N10° 31′.951″
E011° 53′.485″
30,000Cone250 m479 m. aslOlivine Basalt
5Location 5N10° 32′.876″
E011° 57′.751″
InhabitedPlug683 mBasaltic boulders/Agglomerates/tuff
6Location 6N10° 30′. 279″
E011° 50′ 726″
InhabitedDome826 mVesicular Basaltic boulders/Agglomerates/tuff
7TUMN10° 36′. 254′
E012° 06′ 564″
10,000Dome643 m aslScoraceous basalt with olivine/zeolite/Columnar basalt.
8Wakama (a) (BCG Village)N10° 36′.472′
E012° 07′ 126″
2500Cone1 km677 mScoraceous basalt
9Wakama (b)N10° 37′.211′
E012° 08′ 886″
2500Caldera10 km701 mScoraceous basalt
10Gwamya VolcanoN10° 33′.496″
E012° 06′. 341″
6000Cone500 m752 mScoraceous basalt/pyroclastic pile
11Tilla Volcanic HillN10° 32′.549″
E012° 08′.477″
2500Cone500 m910 mScoraceous basalt/pyroclastic pile
12Tilla Crater LakeN10° 32′.336″
E012° 07′. 945″
10,000Caldera2 km751 mScoraceous basalt/pyroclastic pile
13Versu VolcanoN10° 39′.759″
E012° 08′.457″
3000Seasonal Crater Lake700 m782 m aslOlivine basalt
14Dragna VolcanoN10°27′.132″
5000Caldera filled up by collapsed materials.3 km750 m aslWeathered scoraceous basa
15Marama VolcanoN10°27′.746″
150,000Cone1 km735 mScoraceous basalt/pyroclastics
16Gwaram volcanic hillN10° 39′.214″
E012° 08′.092″
8000Cone1 km942 mBoulders of scoriaceous basalt
17Batadeka (i) Volcanic hillN10° 41′. 673″
E012° 07′.707″
3000Cone700 m884 mWeathered scoriaceous basalt
18Batadeka (ii) Volcanic hillN10° 42′. 067″
E012° 07′.542″
3000Cone1 km1053 m aslWeathered scoriaceous basalt
19Kwatla Crater LakeN10° 42′.117″
E012° 06′.433″
InhabitedSeasonal Crater Lake1.5 km752 m aslWeathered scoriaceous basalt
20MaldauN10° 43′.500
E012° 06′.979″
InhabitedCone350 m907 m asl
21Buratai Volcanic HillN10° 53′.926″
E012° 02′.800′
5000Dome700 m718 m aslWeathered scoriaceous basalt/ pyroclastics
22Kona Uku Volcanic hillsN10° 49′.814″
E012° 07′.062″
10,0003 Cones clustered together2 km879 m aslWeathered scoriaceous basalt/ pyroclastics
23Dutsen Kura (Bogur) Volcanic hillN10° 49′.313″
E012° 05′.978″
5000Seasonal Crater Lake1.2 km1011 m aslWeathered scoriaceous basalt/ pyroclastics
24Kukuwa (Gabai lga Yobe State)N11° 06′.387″
E011° 53′.689″
5000Plug200 m429 m aslColumnar basalt
25Kukuwa IIN11° 06′. 443″
E011° 53′. 534″
5000Several Plugs200 m435 m aslColumnar basalt
26Kurara Volcanic Hill(Garkida junction Adamawa State)N10° 22′.460″
E012° 34′.284″
50,000Cone1 km661 m aslWeathered scoriaceous basalt/pyroclastics
27Song (Song-Gombi Road)N9° 51′.036″
E012° 36′.383″
50,000Cone700 m477 mWeathered scoriaceous basalt/pyroclastics
28Song (Hawul Mountains)N9° 49′.504″
E012° 37′.155″
10,0004 different cones aligned N-S250 m each420-1000 m aslWeathered scoriaceous basalt/pyroclastics

Table 2.

Inventory of the volcanoes of the Biu Plateau, Nigeria.

The Kerang twin volcanoes are located at Kerang town and its environs in the present Mangu Local Government Area, about 120 km from Jos, Plateau State (Figure 1). The Kerang I (Dustin) volcano has a peak of 1456 m above sea level and a crater diameter of 300 m. The volcanic pile consists of ash, lapilli, scoria, pumices, breccias, basalts, boulders, and pyroclastic materials of various sizes. The Kerang II (Kerang) volcano has three craters with a peak height of 1510 m above sea level with a crater diameter ranging from 600 m to 1 km (Table 1). This volcano (Kerang II) is the second largest volcano on the Jos Plateau compared to the Jiblik volcano which has a peak height of 1670 m above sea level. The volcanic pile of the Kerang II volcano is composed of ash, lapilli, scoria, breccias, bombs, basaltic boulders and pyroclastic materials (lapilli, granitic and lava flows).

The Pidong volcano (Maar) has a series of three craters and aligned along the general North-South trend of the Panyam Volcanic Line [10]. The Pidong Maar consists of a sequence of pyroclastic materials (mixture of large fragments of basement rocks/pyroclastics, scoria and ash) and indicative of violent eruption [9]. The Gu volcanic line consist of five volcanoes from NW to SW namely Jiblik, Kagu, Katul and Lagdak volcanoes. The volcanic cones are composed essentially of volcanic ash, lapilli, bombs, tuff agglomerates, basalts and scoria. Most of them occur as single cinder cones (like at Miango, Wushik, Kerang Swan junction, etc.) but rarely as clusters of two or more volcanoes (for example Jiblik, Kassa, Kerang twin volcanoes, Pidong, etc.)

Also, the relatively large sizes of some of these volcanoes (Miango, Kassa, Jiblik, Kerang, etc.) suggest that quite a large volume of ejecta materials were spewed out covering quite a large landmass (valleys and low-lying plains) as lava flows. Lava flows apparently from the Jiblik volcanic can be traces to several kilometers south of the Jos Plateau escarpment. If any of these volcanoes erupt today with the same intensity and volume presumed, a large expanse of land would be buried and about 2 million people living around these volcanoes are potentially at risk.

The volcanoes of the Biu Plateau (Table 2) present similar physical and petrographic characteristics as those of the Jos Plateau region. The volcanoes also form near linear alignments from the north to the south and extend right through the low-lying Basement complex into the sedimentary formations of the Benue valley (Garkida-Gombi-Song areas in Adamawa State). The volcanoes are simple and never in clusters, but with very large craters of greater than 1 km, (Caldera). The volcanoes extruded directly the basement rocks and therefore are of lower altitude above sea level relative to those of the Jos Plateau, which extruded the already high-level Younger Granite bodies.

Also, unlike the volcanoes of the Jos Plateau, those of Biu Plateau are constituted by a large volume of volcanic ash and pyroclastic materials (for example, at Gwamya, Tilla Crater Lake, Gadam, Batadeka, Buratai, Katla volcanoes, etc.) (Table 2), suggesting that there was a tremendous spewing of ejecta materials (ashes and gases) into the atmosphere prior to the violent eruptions and/or in-between the eruptions.


5. Geochemical results and interpretations

The major and trace elements geochemical compositions of the basaltic rock samples collected from the various volcanic cones in the Jos Plateau volcanic province are presented in Tables 3 and 4. The volcanic cones situated at the northern end of the volcanic line here referred to as the north-western group are represented by Miango (M1 & M2) and Kassa (K1–5), while the south-eastern end group are represented by Jiblik (G1 &G2), Tingyaras (S1), Ampang (S2), Pidong (S3), Wulshik (S4), Kugol (S5) and Kerang (S6).

Analyte symbol unitSiO2 (%)Al2O3 (%)Fe2O3 (%)MnO (%)MgO (%)CaO (%)Na2O (%)K2O (%)TiO2 (%)P2O5 (%)LOI (%)Total (%)Al2O3/ TiO2CaO/ TiO2Al2O3/ CaO

Table 3.

Major element compositions (in weight percentage) of volcanic rocks from the Jos Plateau Volcanic Province.

Analyte symbol unitBa ppmSR ppmY ppmSc ppmZr ppmBe ppmV ppmBa/SrZr/Y

Table 4.

Trace elements compositions (in ppm) of the basaltic rocks from the Jos Plateau Volcanic Province.

Southeastern volcanoes: G1—basalt of Jiblik volcano; S1—basalt of Timjagha’as volcano; S2—basalt of Ampang volcano; S3—basalt of Pidong volcano; S4—basalt of Wushik volcano; S5—basalt of Kogul volcano; S6—basalt of Kerang volcano.

Northwestern volcanoes: M1—basalt of Miango North volcano; M2—basalt of Miango South volcano; K1—basalt of Kassa volcano; K2—basalt of Kassa volcano; K3—basalt of Kassa volcano; K4—basalt of Kassa volcano; K5—basalt of Kassa volcano.

PeriodpHTemperature (°C)EC (μs/m)Mg (mg/l)Ca (mg/l)Na (mg/l)K (mg/l)Zn (mg/l)Fe (mg/l)Cu (mg/l)Al (mg/l)SO4 (mg/l)Cl (mg/l)Alkalinity (CaCO3) (mg/l)F (mg/l)
Patterson (1986) report9.3528.541036.413.6512.825.80.0650.27<0.004<0.332.5335
Present study (2013–2015)7.1726.129929.6839.676.8911.390.0640.6120.00390.4561.035.67141.50.249

Table 5.

Comparative hydrogeochemical data of 1986 and the present study.

The rocks display similar SiO2 wt% contents (44.84–50.06 wt%) for the north-western group of volcanoes (M1&2 and K1–5) and 45.26–46.25 wt% for S1–6 and 49.69 wt% for the Jiblik volcano (G1). However, the sample G2 from Jiblik with high SiO2 content of 64.21 wt% is exceptionally acidic and does not seem to be a basalt. Many of the rocks from the Kassa volcanoes (K1, K3, K4, and K5) display the highest SiO2 content (46.99–50.06 wt%) as opposed to those from Miango volcanoes (M1 &M2) and the southern volcanoes (S1–6) whose SiO2 contents are typical of a normal basalt (45.26–46.25 wt%).The Miango and the Kassa volcanoes display higher Fe2O3 contents (12.33–12.61 and 10.42–11.35 wt% respectively). The southern group (G1 & S1–6) displays lower Fe2O3 content; 9.83 wt% for the Jiblik volcano (G1); and a relatively higher but similar concentrations of between 11.25 and 11.92 wt% for the Panyam Volcanic line members (S1–6).

In general, the Al2O3 contents of all the basalts from the different volcanic cones are significantly high but vary narrowly inter/intra the volcanic cones (13.87–18.07 wt% for the north-western group and 12.41–18.07 wt% for the southern group (G1 & S1–6)). In terms of the MgO content, the southern group (S1–6) presents relatively higher values of between 10.71 and 12.58 wt% as against an average of 8.00 wt% for the northern group (M1–2 & K1–5). The CaO, Na2O, K2O and TiO2 contents for all the volcanoes vary narrowly; averagely 8; 3; 1.5 and 2 wt%, respectively.

Their Al2O3/TiO2 ratios vary narrowly and could be on that basis be subdivided into two groups; those with ratios between 5.53 and 5.69 and then those between 6.39 and 6.62 for the entire volcanic line (N-S) (Figure 3). This is further a reflection of the variations in Al2O3 contents of the basalts since TiO2 contents remain relatively constant. Similarly, their CaO/TiO2 and Al2O3/CaO ratios vary from 2.6 to 4.31 and 1.34–1.60 respectively. Such narrow difference in these ratios is expected from a low degree of magmatic differentiation of the same parent material by partial melting process (Figures 3 and 4).

Figure 3.

Plot of SiO2 versus Al2O3/TiO2 ratios.

Figure 4.

Plot of SiO2 versus Al2O3/CaO ratios.

Similarly, the rocks present subtle variations in incompatible element ratios Ba/Sr. and Zr/Y (0.73–0.90 and 8.77–9.35, respectively); all supportive of their subjection to low degree of magmatic differentiation and/or similar source.

5.1 Silica versus major oxides correlation plots

In the SiO2 versus MgO wt% plot, the southern volcanoes overwhelmingly display higher MgO contents as opposed to the lower values for the northern group of volcanoes (Figure 5c). It is expected that the Kassa volcanoes (K1–5) which are more differentiated (by their higher SiO2 contents) than the others to present lower MgO contents but instead display similar MgO contents. This scenario is true of their Fe2O3 contents. However, there is a weak negative correlation between Fe2O3, MgO, TiO2 and MnO versus silica indicating a progressive decrease of these oxides with differentiation (Miango-Southern group-Kassa) corresponding to compositional variations related to the removal of different proportions of olivine/pyroxenes from the melt as it becomes more felsic (Figure 6ad).

Figure 5.

(a–f) Plots of SiO2 versus major oxides of the volcanic rocks of the Jos Plateau Volcanic Province.


Figure 6.

(a–d) Plots of SiO2 versus major oxides of the volcanic rocks of the Jos Plateau Volcanic Province.

The Kassa volcanoes in the northern group and those of the southern group exhibit higher CaO contents compared to lower CaO values at Miango (M1&M2) and also of the northern group. The observed high CaO content suggest the recrystallization of clinopyroxenes in the early stages of crystallization. In general, there is a positive correlation depicting a progressive increase of CaO with differentiation from Miango to the southern group to Kassa (Figure 5af). This increase is not visible at the level of one volcano but several of them put together. The high Fe2O3, MgO and CaO could be as a result of the bulk crystallization of olivine, pyroxene and plagioclase during the early stages of differentiation. The progressive increase in the contents of Al2O3 corresponds with the increase in the alkaline metals content (Na2O + K2O) suggesting the crystallization of plagioclase with increased degree of differentiation. The alkaline oxides (Na2O + K2O) are correspondingly highest in the most differentiated rocks (K1–5) (Figure 6d). In a silica versus total alkali diagram (Figure 7), the rocks fall within the alkaline field and are therefore classified as predominantly alkaline basalts. Only a few rocks fall in the sub-alkaline field which could be of tholeiitic character (high silica and Fe Contents). Furthermore, in a log (Zr/TiO2) versus SiO2 diagram (Figure 8), the bulk of the rocks fall in the alkaline field reaffirming their alkaline nature (Figure 9).

Figure 7.

Silica versus Total Alkali diagram [11] of the volcanic rocks of the Jos Plateau (Alk = alkaline and Subalk = subalkaline).

Figure 8.

Plot of Log (Zr/TiO2) ratio versus SiO2 [12] of the volcanic rocks of Jos Plateau Volcanic province (Sub-AB = subalkaline basalts, AB = alkaline basalts).

Figure 9.

SiO2 versus Na2O + K2O classification diagram of basalts of the Jos Plateau volcanoes [13].

In respect to their Mg#, it varies very narrowly within the individual volcano signifying a subtle degree of differentiation (partial melting) and thus reflecting a low degree of magmatic differentiation and the consequent subtle compositional variations observed. However, for the entire volcanoes put together, the Mg# vary significantly from 27 to 56 suggesting formation of the rocks by fractional crystallization at larger scale. The southern volcanoes (S1–6) have the highest Mg# relative to those of the northern group (K1–5 and M1 & M2) (Figure 10ad). When the rocks are plotted in Mg# versus Fe2O3 diagram (Figure 10b), a positive correlation is obtained indicating a progressive decrease in Fe2O3 with increasing degree of magmatic differentiation. The relatively similar Ba/Sr. and Zr/Y ratios for these rocks but with progressive decrease in Mg# lends credence to their derivation from the same magma reservoir by differentiation. It appears that the rocks with the highest Mg# (samples S1–6) present compositions that are close to that of the parent materials since the magma did not suffer high degree of differentiation giving rise to a variety of rocks. The subtle variation of Mg# and the incompatible element ratios highlighted above are supportive of the derivation of these basalts by partial melting process of a magma from the same source.

Figure 10.

(a–d) Plot of some selected major oxides versus Mg# for the volcanic rocks of the Jos Plateau volcanic province.

5.2 Tectonic environment of emplacement

The geochemical data plotted in the ternary diagram of Ti/100-Zr-Y*3 [12] show clearly that they were majorly emplaced within the continental crust (Figures 11 and 12). This fact distinct these basalts from those of the Island arc and the Mid Oceanic Ridge.

Figure 11.

Log Zr (ppm) versus Log (Zr/Y) (ppm) diagram [14] volcanic rocks of the Jos Plateau Volcanic province.

Figure 12.

Ternary diagram of Ti/100 – Zr – Y*3 [12] for the volcanic rocks of the Jos Plateau Volcanic province. WPB = D, within plate basalts; OFB = B, ocean flood basalts; LKT = A,B low potassium tholeiitic basalts; and CAB = D,C, calc-alkaline basalts.

5.3 Incompatible elements spidergraph

The incompatible elements when plotted in a spidergraph normalized to Chondrites in comparison with OIB (Figure 13) display a relatively similar pattern with slight enrichment in their incompatible elements. These characteristic features are typical of most alkali basaltic suites derived from a deeper mantle source akin to that of the OIB [12, 14, 16, 17, 18, 19].

Figure 13.

Spidergraph plot of incompatible element compositions of basaltic rocks from the Plateau volcanoes normalized to OIB [15].

5.4 Ar40-Ar39 dating

A sample by sample result is presented in Table 5. The Ar/Ar ages span between 1.3 and 2.5 Ma, confirm the earlier K-Ar ages of 2.1 and 1.9 ± 0.31 Ma reported by [1] on dolerites on the Jos Plateau. The short interval in the radiometric ages suggests volcanic eruptions occurred at discrete times, separated by short periods of non-activity at a mean age average of 0.55 Ma (CN3 = 2.500 ± 0.318 Ma and CN5 = 1.970 ± 0.173 Ma). This long period must have been dominated by profound erosion. The considerable long-time difference from the oldest to the youngest eruption suggests that there was relatively steady magma source overtime.

5.5 Hydrogeochemistry of the Pidong Crater Lake

Comparative hydrogeochemical parameters of previous study [7] and this present study is presented in Table 5. It shows clearly that pH and alkalinity have decreased overtime from 9.35 to ≥7.0 and from 335 to 145 mg/l, respectively as well as increase in the concentrations of Cl from 2.5 to 5.6 mg/l; SO4 from <0.33 to 1.05 mg/l (Table 5).

5.5.1 Major element concentration/distribution

In general, the major element concentrations in the Pidong Lake decrease in the order Mg > Ca > K > Na (Table 5). The highest concentrations of Mg (30 to ≤40 mg/l), Ca (21–25 mg/l), K (15 mg/l) Na (8–11 mg/l) are observed during the dry season (January–April) while lowest concentrations of Mg (16–25 mg/l), Ca (10–15 mg/l), K (4–7 mg/l) in the rainy season (August–October). The intermittent change of color of the Lake from clear blue to brown has been attributed to the increase in Fe concentrations into the Lake.

5.5.2 Rare earth element (REEs) concentrations

Figure 14 presents the REE patterns from the Crater Lake normalized to Chondrites. The REE concentrations are impoverished relative to Chondrite values (<1 × Chondrite). There are significant variations in the LREE (0.03–0.18 × Chondrite for La) relative to HREE (Gd-Lu). An important characteristic of the spectra is the similarities between the LREE patterns indicating similar source. The slight enrichment in LREE must have been influenced by fluid percolation through the host crustal materials (host granite basement) rich in these elements.

Figure 14.

Spidergraph of rare earth elements (REEs) of Pidong Lake normalized to Chondrite [20].

5.5.3 Anion concentrations (SO4, Cl, HCO3, NO3, F, Br, and PO4)

The major anion concentrations from the lake vary in concentrations in the order of -HCO3 > Cl > SO4. The highest concentration of in the LREE range from <0.5 to 5.5 mg/l and 0.0675 to 0.0321 mg/l, respectively, and were observed during the dry season (October–April). The concentrations of HCO3, Cl and F could have been influenced by interacting percolating water and host rock chemistry.

The increase in the concentrations of SO42−, Cl (<0.33–1.03 and 2.5–5. 67 mg/l, respectively) as well as the decrease in Alkalinity and pH from 335 to 141.5 mg/l and 9.35 to ≈7.00, respectively. These variations in concentrations suggest a possible input of magmatic/fumaroles percolating upwards to shallow groundwater aquifers coming in contact with meteoric water.

The oxygen and hydrogen isotope composition and plot of ∂ 18O and ∂ 2H relative to SMOW line shows that the Pidong Crater Lake is of meteoric origin.


6. Conclusion

  1. This work presents and affirms the existence of relicts of past volcanic eruptions (dormant volcanoes) in Nigeria (Jos and Biu Plateaux).

  2. That these volcanic edifices were previous eruption sites suggest they are potential eruption sites. The proximity of these volcanic edifices to those of the Cameroon volcanic line, which has witnessed a series of volcanic activity, is worrisome.

  3. The mafic lavas in both the Jos and the Biu Plateaux volcanic provinces display geochemical compositions that are characteristic of alkaline basalts

  4. Petrologically, the basaltic rocks display compositions varying from basalt proper to basanite-tephrite-hawaiite, emplaced within the host crustal rocks (Basement rocks).

  5. The chain of volcanoes evolved from the same basalt parent magma by crystal fractionation each cluster derived by partial melting of the same residual parent magma.

  6. Recent 40Ar/39Ar dating of basalts from overlapping volcanic cones from the Jos Plateau province (ranging from 2.5 to 1.34 Ma) confirms the Quaternary age (Pleistocene epoch) of emplacement for these volcanoes and the intermittency of eruptions inter and intra the volcanic line in the provinces.

  7. That these volcanic edifices were previous eruption sites suggest they are potential eruption sites. The proximity of these volcanic edifices to those of the Cameroon volcanic line, which has witnessed a series of volcanic activity, is worrisome. The volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in Italy in the year 2004 known to have been dormant since 24 AD is a clarion call. Furthermore, the recent volcanic eruption in Iceland April 15, 2010 after 200 years of silence should increase the worry. All these information calls for further comprehensive work on these dormant volcanoes for risk assessment.

  8. The minor intermittent fumarolic activities observed within the Pidong Crater Lake marked by the change in the water color from the normal bluish to brown-red color, (due to Fe-input) call for more comprehensive investigation of the volcano and further strengthen the idea of the possibility of the volcano roaring back to life.



This study is an on-going project on volcanoes in Nigeria, being embarked upon by three PhD scholars. It is being supported by STEP-B World Bank funding. Also, the Centre for Geodesy and Geodynamics, National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) is well appreciated for providing funds for the field work.


Conflict of interest

We declare that there are no “conflict of interest.”


Notes/thanks/other declarations

The authors are deeply indebted to the Geological Survey of Norway for dating the rocks. We express our deep thanks to anonymous reviewers of this manuscript, who have provided constructive criticisms which has improved the quality of the initial manuscript. Our profound gratitude goes to our project students who assisted in the sample collection.


Appendices and nomenclatures


alkali basalt


above sea level


million (106) years


mid-ocean ridge basalt


National Space Research and Development Agency


ocean island basalt


parts per billion (1/109)


parts per million (1/106)


standard mean ocean water


inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry

stable isotope ratio expressed relative to a standard


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Written By

Uriah Lar, Isah Lekmang, Cedric Longpia and Mohammed Tsalha

Submitted: September 22nd, 2018 Reviewed: January 9th, 2019 Published: December 13th, 2019