The apical parts of large volcanoes along the East Pacific Rise (islands and seamounts) are encrusted with rocks of the alkali volcanic suite (alkali basalt, andesine- and oligoclase-andesite, and trachyte). In contrast, the more submerged parts of the Rise are largely composed of a tholeiitic basalt which has low concentrations of K, P, U, Th, Pb, and Ti. This tholeiitic basalt is either the predominant or the only magma generated in the earth's mantle under oceanic ridges and rises. It is at least 1000-fold more abundant than the alkali suite, which is probably derived from tholeiitic basalt by magmatic differentiation in and immediately below the larger volcanoes. Distinction of oceanic tholeiites from almost all continental tholeiites is possible on the simple basis of total potassium content, with the discontinuity at 0.3 to 0.5 percent K2O by weight. Oceanic tholeiites also are readily distinguished from some 19 out of 20 basalts of oceanic islands and seamount cappings by having less than 0.3 percent K2O by weight and more than 48 percent SiO2. Deep drilling into oceanic volcanoes should, however, core basalts transitional between the oceanic tholeiites and the presumed derivative alkali basalts.The composition of the oceanic tholeiites suggests that the mantle under the East Pacific Rise contains less than 0.10 percent potassium oxide by weight; 0.1 part per million of uranium and 0.4 part of thorium; a potassium:rubidium ratio of about 1200 and a potassium: uranium ratio of about 104.