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Geology and Exploratory Activity in Eastern Overthrust Belt

Larry D. Woodfork, D. G. Patchen

The "Eastern Overthrust belt" is a term that has been applied in recent years by industry explorationists and others to variously defined parts of the Appalachian thrust and foldbelt (Valley and Ridge) and adjacent areas. Regardless of precisely how it is defined or the particular terms applied to it, the area has gone through several cycles of oil and gas exploration. The most recent exploration phase was spurred largely by reports of large flows of natural gas from the Columbia Gas discovery well drilled in 1978 in Mineral County, West Virginia, and analogies with the geology and recent discoveries in the "western Overthrust." Data and interpretations from that most recent phase of industry exploration, coupled with attendant governmental and academic studies, have greatly increased our fundamental knowledge of the geology of the Appalachian orogenic belt and, according to some interpretations, have doubled the area of potentially productive rocks. Although that recent interest has waned in response to failure of some high-risk exploratory drilling, e.g., Columbia's remote wildcat near Albany, New York, and overall industry conditions, it now would appear to be an opportune time for industry to consolidate, synthesize, and evaluate all of the data available, acquire leases where justified, and begin to prepare for the next phase of Eastern Overthrust exploration.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #91038©1987 AAPG Annual Convention, Los Angeles, California, June 7-10, 1987.