The India-Asia collision reactivated the early Paleozoic Qilian orogen with an intense metamorphic belt that promoted the release of metamorphism-generated radiogenic Sr into the drainage systems on the NE Tibetan Plateau. This metamorphic impact on the regional dissolved Sr cycle is well observed at the recent–modern scale, but its onset and evolutionary histories are unclear. We present the first basin-scale 52–5 Ma regional dissolved Sr isotopic record in water on the NE Tibetan Plateau by analyzing well-dated basin fluvial-lacustrine sediments in the Xining, Linxia, and Tianshui Basins. The Xining Basin displays an increase in basin water 87Sr/86Sr ratio and a decrease in the sediment εNd values at ca. 25 Ma. This Sr-Nd isotope-deduced provenance change coincides with the reorganization of drainage and erosion regimes that is suggested by an evident rise in the youngest peak and the lag time of detrital apatite fission-track ages from Cenozoic sedimentary basins surrounding the Qilian orogen. The Qilian-sourced eolian dust during ca. 9–8 Ma significantly elevated the river and lake water 87Sr/86Sr ratios in the downwind Linxia and Tianshui Basins, which is consistent with the expansion of the Asian dust system. Our results suggest that large-scale denudation of the Qilian orogen in response to the India-Asia collision initiated in the late Oligocene. Given the remarkable hydrological impact of the Cenozoic reactivation of the Qilian orogen, our study highlights the potentially important role of continental collision–formed metamorphic belts in regulating past regional and even seawater Sr isotope evolution.

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