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The outer parts of collision mountain belts are commonly represented by fold and thrust belts. Many of the key concepts in the structural geology of fold and thrust belts have origins in ancient orogens such as the Appalachians and Caledonian chains of Europe, together with the Alps. Impetus in thrust belt research then came from the desire to exploit geological resources that reside in the subsurface, especially arising from hydrocarbon exploration in the foothills of the Canadian Cordillera in the 1960s and 1970s. Notwithstanding decades of exploitation, continental fold and thrust belts are still estimated to hold reserves of 700 billion barrels of oil equivalent. But exploration will focus increasingly on small, hard-to-resolve structures. Basic geological understanding remains as important today as it did for the pioneering explorers in the Canadian foothills. It is a theme that runs throughout this Special Publication.

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