Abstract The evolution of volcanism in Sumatra and Java during Tertiary and Quaternary time can be divided into three phases: (i) lava flows of the Early Tertiary event (43–33 Ma) consisting of island arc tholeiites; followed by (ii) eruption of tholeiitic pillow basalt at the beginning of the Late Tertiary (11 Ma); and succeeded by (iii) medium-K calc-alkaline magmatism in the Pliocene and Quaternary. The present available field data on the occurrence of Paleogene volcanic rocks and subsurface data in south Sumatra and northern west Java indicate a much larger area of distribution of the volcanic rocks than previously recognized. Because the eastward continuation of the northern west Java volcanic rocks had not been found, early investigators were inclined to assume that they continued to south Kalimantan. In contrast, the early Tertiary volcanic rocks that occupy the south coast of Java can be traced further east as far as Flores. The occurrence of Paleogene volcanics in south Sumatra and northern west Java can be interpreted as a Paleogene volcanic arc that was presumably related to the late Cretaceous–Paleogene trench parallel to Sumatra and west Java due to subduction of the Indian Plate toward the northeast (Meratus trend).