Only 16 wells in the Rocky Mountain region have drilled through Precambrian rocks to test the 3 to 6 million acres of sedimentary rocks that are concealed and virtually unexplored beneath mountain-front thrusts. One recent test is a major gas discovery, another a development oil well, and over half of the unsuccessful tests had oil or gas shows. These wells have not only set up an exciting play, they have also helped define the structural geometry of the mountain-front thrusts, including the angle of the thrust, the amount of horizontal displacement, and the presence or absence of fault slivers containing overturned Mesozoic or Paleozoic rocks. Important for further geophysical exploration, these wells have provided vital data on seismic velocities in Precambrian rocks. Analysis of these data has stimulated further exploration along the fronts already drilled: in Wyoming, the Emigrant Trail thrust, the Washakie thrust, the Wind River thrust, the thrust at the north end of the Laramie Range, and the Casper arch; in Utah and Colorado, the Uncompahgre and Uinta uplifts.
The geologic success of these wells has encouraged leasing and seismic acquisition on every other mountain-front thrust in the Rockies. An unsuccessful attempt to drill through the Arlington thrust of the Medicine Bow Range will probably only momentarily daunt that play, and the attempted penetration of the Axial arch in Colorado has not condemned that area; in fact, another well is being drilled at this time. Untested areas that will be explored in the near future are: in Wyoming, the south flank of the Owl Creek Range, the southwest flank of the Gros Ventre Range, the east and west flanks of the Big Horn Mountains, the west flank of the Big Horn basin, the north flank of the Hanna basin; in Utah, the south flank of the Uinta Mountains; and in Colorado, the White River uplift, the north flank of North Park basin, and the Front Range.