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Despite the negative results of more than 200 test wells drilled to date on the emerged coastal plain north of Florida, the sedimentary section as much as 17,000 feet thick that underlies the 1,100 mile-long continental shelf on the east coast of the U. S. appears from several points of view to be a likely petroleum target. A northern coastwise extension of the Paleozoic sedimentary rocks found in the subsurface of Florida and Georgia, although conjectural at present, may be of considerable size, and the strata there may also be relatively unmetamorphosed. Parts of the shelf area have probably been receiving sediments nearly continuously since the Paleozoic. Unconformities and successive updip wedge-outs of Mesozoic and Tertiary marine sediments that perhaps include reefs must be common, especially offshore, and granite washes are probably present near basement. Downfaulted Triassic basins apparently similar to those in the Piedmont are known to underlie the emerged coastal plain; other down-faulted basins containing sediments of Triassic and other ages might also be expected beneath the continental shelf. Although large structural features are present along the shoreline, for example the Cape Fear arch and the Southeast Georgia basin, there is as yet little evidence available as to smaller-scale structures. The large seismically-determined ridge with flanking troughs located near and subparallel to the outer edge of the continental shelf must have had a pronounced effect on the shelf strata either during sedimentation, by later deformation, or both.
Near-shore marine sediments interfingering updip with continental sediments, deposited in what may have been the shelf and hinge line of a mobile belt, and totalling 175,000 cubic miles (emerged coastal plain included), seemingly constitute a setting favorable for the accumulation of oil.
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