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During the Late Ordovician and Early Silurian, the western part of the Arabian Peninsula was covered by polar glaciers that advanced from the south pole in African Gondwana. During this period, nondeposition, erosion, or marginal marine conditions prevailed in eastern and northern Arabia. When the glaciers melted in the Early Silurian, sea level rose sharply and the paleo-Tethys Ocean transgressed the Arabian and adjoining plates depositing a thick, organic-rich shale directly over the glaciogenic and periglacial rocks and related unconformities. The post-glacial sequence coarsens upward reflecting the passage of a coastline prograding northward from African and Arabian Gondwana to northern Arabia.
A sea level drop in the Late Silurian placed the study area in a terrestrial environment; however, as sea level recovered in the Early Devonian, a carbonate sequence blanketed most of the area. The transgression, however, was interrupted by regional uplift and local orogenic movements in the Middle and Late Devonian. These movements constitute the onset of Hercynian tectonism, which resulted in erosion of the older sequences, depositional hiatuses, and regional facies changes.
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