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Current models of drainage evolution suggest that the non-dendritic patterns seen in rivers in SE Asia reflect progressive capture of headwaters away from the Red River during and as a result of surface uplift of Eastern Asia. Mass balancing of eroded and deposited rock volumes demonstrates that the Red River catchment must have been much larger in the past. In addition, the Nd isotope composition of sediments from the Hanoi Basin, Vietnam, interpreted as paleo-Red River sediments, shows rapid change during the Oligocene, before ~24 Ma. We interpret this change to reflect large-scale drainage capture away from the Red River, possibly involving loss of the middle Yangtze River. Reorganization was triggered by regional tilting of the region towards the east. This study constrains initial surface uplift in eastern Tibet and southwestern China to be no later than 24 Ma, well before major surface uplift and gorge incision alter 13 Ma. Copyright 2006 by the American Geophysical Union.

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Geophysical Research Letters