A transfer zone is a kind of structure that is produced to conserve deformation of a fault structure on both sides. Increasing numbers of transfer zones are being identified in rift basins, which are areas of petroleum accumulation and potential exploration targets. This paper provides a numerical simulation method for the genesis and development of transfer zones based on geomechanical modeling. On the basis of three-dimensional (3-D) seismic interpretation, using the Tongcheng fault as an example, the fault activity parameter and fault activity intensity index were established to quantitatively characterize the difference in fault activity on the two sides of a transfer zone. A geomechanical model was developed for a transfer zone in a rift basin, and the structural characteristics and genetic mechanism of a convergent fault were studied using paleostress and strain numerical simulations. Affected by different movements of boundary faults and basement faults, the evolution of the Tongcheng fault can be divided into three stages: (1) during the Funing period, which was the main development period of compound transfer faults, the activity, stress, and strain of the fault blocks on either side of the Tongcheng fault were obviously different; (2) during the Dainan period, which was the development stage of inherited compound transfer faults, the northern part of the Tongcheng area underwent local compression, and the T3 anticline began to form; and (3) during the Sanduo period, the Tongcheng fault experienced right-lateral strike-slip activity, where the activity showed two stages of change, first increasing and then decreasing, and the Tongcheng fault anticline developed. The superposition of multiple complex tectonic movements produced a transfer zone that has both strike-slip and extensional fault properties. The geomechanical model in this paper provides important insights for analyzing the evolution of transfer zones in rift basins.

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