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The Appalachian basin covers approximately 175,000 mi2 (450,000 km2) and contains about 0.5 million mi3 (2 million km3) of sediments. In the century and a quarter since Drake's first well, more than 500,000 wells have been drilled, producing 3.2 billion bbl of oil and 41 tcf of gas, mostly from shallow depths. Basin oil and gas production largely peaked by World War I. The stratigraphic nomenclature of the basin has arisen from that largely developed by early cable-tool drillers.
Hydrocarbon production has been established in all of the Appalachian's Paleozoic systems. Devonian rocks have been the most productive, and the Mississippian and Devonian combined account for more than three-fourths of all Appalachian oil and gas production. Stratigraphic traps are by far the dominant feature of Appalachian oil and gas fields.
Although the Appalachian basin is a generally mature oil and gas province from a developmental standpoint, this is only true above a depth of much less than 10,000 ft (3,000 m). New shallow discoveries will doubtless continue to be made. In addition, using the improved exploration technologies now available to the petroleum industry, it is reasonable to expect deeper discoveries, particularly in association with the deeper unconformities known to exist in the basin.
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