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The lower limit of abundance of sodium and potassium in ultramafic rocks is less than the threshold amount detectable by conventional analytical methods. By a dilutionaddition modification of the flame-spectrophotometric method, sodium and potassium have been determined in 40 specimens of alpine ultramafic rocks. Samples represent six regions in the United States and one in Australia, and include dunite, peridotite, pyroxenite, and their variably serpentinized and metamorphosed derivatives. The median value found for Na2O is 0.004 per cent, and the range of Na2O is 0.001-0.19. The median value for K2O is 0.0034 per cent and the range is 0.001-0.031 per cent. Alkali concentrations are below 0.01 per cent Na2O in 28 samples and below 0.01 per cent K2O in 35. Derivation of basalt magma from upper-mantle material similar to such ultramafic rocks, as has been postulated, is precluded by the relative amounts of sodium and potassium, which are from 200 to 600 times more abundant in basalt than in the ultramafic rocks. Similar factors apply to a number of other elements. No reasonable process could produce such concentrations in, for example, tens of thousands of cubic miles of uniform tholeiitic basalt. The ultramafic rocks might have originated either as magmatic crystal precipitates or as mantle residues left after fusion and removal of basaltic magma. Injection of ultramafic rocks to exposed positions is tectonic rather than magmatic. ?? 1965.