The Cenozoic Song Hong-Yinggehai Basin in the South China Sea contains a large volume of sediment that has been used in previous studies, together with regional geomorphology, to argue for the existence of a large palaeodrainage system that connected eastern Tibet with the South China Sea. To test this and to understand the significance of sediment volumes deposited in the Song Hong-Yinggehai Basin, this study compared erosion histories of source regions with sediment volumes deposited during the two main stages in basin evolution spanning active rifting and subsidence (30-15.5 Ma) and postrift sedimentation (15.5 Ma to present). The study of basin provenance by detrital zircon U-Pb dating revealed Hainan was an important and continuous source of sediment, and a bedrock thermochronological study quantified its overall contribution to basin sedimentation. Comparison between the accumulated mass of basin sediment and volumes of eroded bedrock, calculated from apatite thermochronometry across the modern Red River drainage in northern Vietnam as well as Hainan Island, accounted for the bulk of sediment deposited since 30 Ma. Consequently, if an expanded paleodrainage ever existed it must have predated the Oligocene.
- low-temperature thermochronology
- Red River
- South China
- zircon U-Pb