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A hindsight analysis of the Tatum basin in southeastern New Mexico by the statistical technique of multiple discriminant-function analysis, coupled with computerized contouring, was used to "predict" statistically the location of oil fields relatively early in the exploration history of the basin. Using only well data available at the end of 1951, predictions were made for a series of geographic cells, each 1 mi by 1 mi (1.6 by 1.6 km) square, so that the entire area of study, 37 by 41 mi (59 by 66 km) was covered. The predictions were based on analysis of isopach and structure-contour maps. The computer was programmed to identify and measure structural anomalies such as areas in which structural closure was interpreted by machine contouring. The quantified geologic facto s derived from the original data then were ranked by a discriminant-function technique, so as to be placed in order of their contribution in predicting statistically the location of oil pools. The vertical closure of structural anomalies is the best predictor of reserves; the second is the subsea depth of the Silurian-Devonian top. The four best geologic variables give results practically equivalent to those obtained with all the variables together. The predictive model successfully located 8 of the 10 new economic fields in the study area; these fields represent at least 40 million bbl of oil. This quantitative method of regional geologic analysis should be widely applicable to exploration problems in many different structural and environmental settings.
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