A non-structural (i.e., more general than structural) working hypothesis, with a potential usefulness greater than that of the currently accepted geophysical structural working hypothesis, is proposed for petroleum prospecting. This non-structural working hypothesis postulates that an observable anomaly, with potential significance in petroleum prospecting, may originate not only in lithologic structure (the significant structural anomaly), but also in stratigraphic variations in (primary) lithology associated with the presence of petroleum accumulation (the significant stratigraphic anomaly). Thereby, a gradation in types of significant anomalies is anticipated, from the significant structural to the significant stratigraphic anomaly, depending upon the relative magnitudes of structural and stratigraphic effects. Two sub-hypotheses are formulated, the special structural and the special stratigraphic, which are applicable, respectively, to the resolution of the significant structural and the significant stratigraphic anomalies.An examination of the corollaries from the hypotheses at issue (the currently accepted geophysical structural and the proposed non-structural) indicates that one critical test depends upon the identification of four unique (i.e., unfamiliar) characteristics postulated for the near-surface significant stratigraphic anomaly; these are magnitude at a shallow depth of survey, configuration, orientation of maximum expression, and change in configuration with depth of survey.

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