Sir Bani Yas Island was formed between 11.6 and 5.3 million years ago, during what is known as the Late Miocene period, as a result of pressure from shifting plates. This caused the limestone ground to break and the salt in the rocks, formed approximately 543 million years ago) to move upwards. As the column of salt grew, it formed a mound in the sea floor, which after a period of time surfaced from the sea, becoming what is now known as Sir Bani Yas Island.
According to recent scientific studies carried out on the mainland, western Abu Dhabi appeared to be much more fertile around 6-8 million years ago than it is today. On the northern coast of Sir Bani Yas Island, cliffs from the Miocene age exist in the cliff faces, you can see ancient sandy and chalky sediment layers in the rock, which can be easily distinguished by their colouring. These layers represent river bed sands from Late Miocene times, and archaeologists hope they will be able to uncover fossils there one day! Sandstone reservoir sediments can still be found on top of the salt dome within the mountains from this period too.
Throughout its history residents of Sir Bani Yas Island and neighbouring islands have benefitted from this geological occurrence. In the central part of the mountains, in an area known as Wadi Al Milh, (Salt Valley), there is an extensive outcrop of rock salt, which has partly dissolved to form narrow caverns, Years ago this was used as a source of salt for the inhabitants. Haematite (iron ore) was also mined in the past on a small scale and 'Kohl’ (which is made by grinding lead sulfide and other ingredients) was mined and used by the people of the Emirates for cleansing and decorating the eyes as is tradition.
You can see these fascinating formations anywhere you look on the Island but if you’re interested in seeing them up close, you can sign up for any of our activities, such as Mountain Biking or Nature & Wildlife Walks!