The Woodford Shale of south-central Oklahoma was deposited in an offshore, quiet-water, oxygen-poor setting on the southern margin of North America in assocation with other dark organic-rich shales of the Upper Devonian–Lower Carboniferous black-shale facies. The basal Woodford was deposited unconformably over lower Paleozoic carbonate strata as a south-to-north transgressive unit during the Frasnian and early Famennian. Black shales and cherts lie directly above the basal beds.
Phosphatic shales in the upper Woodford contain a conodont succession characterized by three distinct environmentally controlled faunas. The lower fauna is characterized by Palmatolepis gracilis ssp., Branmehla inornata, Bispathodus stabilis, and Pseudopolygnathus marburgensis trigonicus, indicative of the Late Devonian Lower expansa Zone to Upper praesulcata Zone. The middle fauna, which spans the Devonian–Carboniferous (D/C) boundary, is characterized by Polygnathus communis communis and species of Protognathodus. On the Lawrence uplift the D/C boundary is disconformable, as indicated by the absence of Protognathodus kockeli before the first occurrence of Siphonodella sulcata. Light-colored phosphate laminae and beds, indicative of erosion and nondeposition, and a change in biofacies from an offshore palmatolepid–bispathodid fauna to a more nearshore, palmatolepid–polygnathid–protognathodid fauna indicate higher energy conditions and a lowering of sea level associated with the boundary interval. In the eastern Arbuckle Mountains the D/C boundary is apparently conformable, marked by a green shale interval containing a Protognathodus fauna. Species of Siphonodella, indicative of an offshore setting, characterize the third and youngest fauna. The Early Carboniferous sulcata, Lower duplicata, and Upper duplicata Zones are recognized in the upper Woodford. The Woodford Shale is conformably overlain by the “pre-Welden Shale’ and its equivalents, or unconformably overlain by the lower Caney Shale (Osagean?–Meramecian) in the northern outcrop regions and the Sycamore Formation (late Osagean?–Meramecian) in the southern Arbuckle Mountains.