The “source-to-sink” concept originated in the study of global change and atmospheric pollution. In recent years, the concept of a source-to-sink system has been widely applied in continental margin sedimentary analysis. In our research, the idea of source-to-sink is applied to the continental rift basin sedimentary system in the Bohai Sea area. The idea emphasizes that the sedimentation dynamics, including erosion, transportation, and accumulation, are considered as a complete source-to-sink system. The sand-rich region often corresponds to a source-to-sink coupling system in a complex continental rift basin, which includes the effective provenance, high-efficiency routing system, and base-level transition. In addition, (1) the effective provenance can be subdivided into explicit and implicit provenance systems in which the implicit provenance system has been shown to be a significant advancement in reservoir prediction for the Bohai Sea area, (2) the sediment-transport pathways and slope-break zone constitute the routing systems, and (3) the base-level transition is one of the allogenic factors that controls the position of the sandstone distribution in a sequence. Based on a large number of previous studies and different characteristics of sequence-stratigraphic models in the Bohai Sea area, we have evaluated three types of source-to-sink systems, including the fault-steep slope, strike-slip fault slope, and gentle slope pattern. In addition, the fault-steep-slope source-to-sink coupling system can be further subdivided into four types, namely, the corner, relay ramps, fault-throw diminishment-type, and valley-type source-to-sink systems. The source-to-sink system of the gentle slope pattern includes the uplift axis valley-type source-to-sink system and the slope-valley-type source-to-sink system. A small-scale, thick layer of fan delta is formed in the fault-steep-slope zone. A continuous braided river delta is formed in the strike-slip fault slope zone. A large-scale, thin layer of braided river delta is formed in the gentle slope zone. The characteristics of source-to-sink systems in continental rift basins are established for the exploration or prediction of favorable zones in the study area, as well as in similar basins.

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