Sedimentological and biostratigraphical data from the Rhinns of Galloway and adjacent areas in SW Scotland confirm that deep-water depositional systems consistently operated along, and were sourced from, the northwestern margin of an asymmetrical basin during the late Ordovician and early Silurian, while pelagic facies accumulated simultaneously to the SE, providing a scenario analogous to many modern trench systems.
Most of the observed sedimentological anomalies, with regard to this general model, can be explained within the context of the varied styles of trench-filling depositional systems, briefly reviewed here, and the major stratigraphic and sedimentologic features can be best explained in terms of a geotectonically evolving fore-arc region. Two main phases of development are recognized: (a) Llandeilo-late Ashgill: during this time interval the fore-arc trench region was tectonically juxtaposed against an active continental margin arc. Small- to medium-scale, SE-prograding sand-rich fans were formed within a relatively narrow trench, leading to axial diversion of the fans, initially to NE but later mainly to SW. Simultaneously a coarse volcanilithic sediment apron, flanking the arc, migrated gradually northeastwards, probably in response to relative fault displacement of the arc and trench; (b) Llandovery: during this time interval the fore-arc trench region was dominated by a variety of mainly fan-type depositional systems which were exclusively sourced (at least until the uppermost Llandovery) from the northwestern margin. The juxtaposition of coeval depositional systems differing significantly in sedimentological style and composition strongly suggests that the Llandovery sedimentation in this region occurred in several structurally separated sub-basins within the main trench system.