US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



Terra Nova, 22, 399–410, 2010

doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3121.2010.00949.x


U.S. government work


Africa is the most important source of dust in the world today, and dust storms are frequent on the nearby Canary Islands. Previous workers have inferred that the Sahara is the most important source of dust to Canary Islands soils, with little contribution from the Sahel region. Soils overlying a late Quaternary basalt flow on Lanzarote, Canary Islands, contain, in addition to volcanic minerals, quartz and mica, exotic to the island!s bedrock. Kaolinite in the soils also likely has an exotic origin. Trace-element geochemistry shows that the soils are derived from varying proportions of locally derived basalt and African dust. Major-element geochemistry, clay mineralogy and interpretation of satellite imagery suggest that dust additions to the Canary Islands come not only from the Sahara Desert, but also from the Sahel region.