The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate how physical characteristics of deposits and results of past exploration enter future exploration decisions. A proposed decision model is presented that is consistent with a set of primitive probabilistic assumptions associated with deposit size distributions and discoverability. Analysis of optimal field exploration strategy showed the likely firm responses to alternative exploration taxes and effects on the distribution of future discoveries. Examination of the probabilistic elements of the decision model indicates that changes in firm expectations associated with the distribution of deposits cannot be totally offset by changes in economic variables. ?? 1981.