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This article is about the type of terrain. For other uses, considerably. Some badlands have no regolith layer whatsee Badlands (disambiguation).
soever, capping instead in bare rock such as sandstone.
Badlands are a type of dry terrain where softer sedi- Others have a regolith with a clay veneer, and still others
have a biological crust of algae or lichens.[2]
In addition to lacking signicant regolith, they also lack
much vegetation. The lack of vegetation could very well
be a result of the lack of a substantial regolith.[3]

2 Formation
The formation of badlands is a result of two processes:
deposition and erosion. The process of deposition describes the accumulation, over time, of layers of mineral
material. Dierent environments such as seas, rivers, or
tropical zones, deposit dierent sorts of clays, silts, and
sand. For instance, the badlands formations in Badlands
National Park, South Dakota, underwent a 47-million
year period of deposition which spanned three major geologic periods (the Cretaceous Period, the Late Eocene,
and the Oligocene Epochs), resulting in clear, distinct layers of sediment[4] which serve as a dramatic display of the
law of superposition. Once the deposited sediments have
solidied, the sedimentary material becomes subject to
erosion. It is sometimes erroneously taught that badlands
erode at a steady rate of about 1 inch per year.[5] In actuality, the precise processes by which the erosion responses
take place vary depending on the precise interbedding of
the sedimentary material.[6] Researchers at Badlands National Park are currently concluding a 3-year project to
learn more about the actual erosion rate of the specic
badlands found in that park.[5]

The Chinle Badlands at Grand Staircase-Escalante National

Monument in southern Utah.

mentary rocks and clay-rich soils have been extensively

eroded by wind and water.[1] They are characterized by
steep slopes, minimal vegetation, lack of a substantial
regolith, and high drainage density.[2] They can resemble malpas, a terrain of volcanic rock. Canyons, ravines,
gullies, buttes, mesas, hoodoos and other such geological
forms are common in badlands. They are often dicult
to navigate by foot. Badlands often have a spectacular
color display that alternates from dark black/blue coal
stria to bright clays to red scoria.


Badlands are partially characterized by their thin to

nonexistent regolith layers. The regolith proles of
badlands in arid climates are likely to resemble one
another.[2] In these regions, the upper layer (~15 cm)
is typically composed of silt, shale, and sand (a byproduct of the weathered shale). This layer can form either
a compact crust or a looser, more irregular aggregation
of popcorn fragments. Located beneath the top layer
is a sublayer (~510 cm), below which can be found a
transitional shard layer (~1040 cm), formed largely of
loose disaggregated shale chips, which in turn eventually
gives way to a layer of unweathered shale. Badlands such
as those found in the Mancos Shale, the Brule Formation,
the Chadron Formation, and the Dinosaur Provincial Park
can be generally said to t this prole.

3 Locations

Some of the best-known badland formations can be found

in Canada and the United States. In the U.S., Makoshika
State Park in Montana and Badlands National Park in
South Dakota together form a series of extensive badland
formations. Among the Henry Mountains area, about
1500m above sea level, Cretaceous and Jurassic aged
shales are exposed. Theodore Roosevelt National Park
is a United States National Park comprising three geographically separated areas of badlands in western North
Dakota and was named for U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt. Another popular area of badland formations is
Toadstool Geologic Park in the Oglala National GrassIn less arid regions, however, the regolith prole can vary land of northwestern Nebraska. Dinosaur National Mon1


The Bardenas Reales near Tudela, Navarre, and the

Tabernas Desert in Tabernas, Almera, and possible Los
Monegros in Aragon, all of them in Spain, are examples
in Europe.
The Valle de la Luna (Valley of the Moon) is one
of many examples of badland formations in midwestern
Argentina. This geological formation is the only place in
the world where nearly all of the Triassic is represented
in an undisturbed sequence of rock deposits.
The badlands of the Gutingkeng Formation in southern
Taiwan are the only example of badlands in a tropical
climate. The formation has a thickness of 34 km and
covers over 100,000 hectares.
Toadstool Geologic Park in northwestern Nebraska

Although most badland scenery is natural, there are some

examples produced by mining, such as the Roman gold
mine of Las Mdulas in northern Spain. An example
ument in Colorado and Utah are also badlands settings. of badlands produced by poor farming practices is the
A small badland called Hells Half-Acre is present in Cheltenham Badlands in Caledon, Ontario.
Natrona County, Wyoming. Additional badlands also
exist in various places throughout southwest Wyoming,
such as near Pinedale and in the Bridger Valley near
the towns of Lyman and Mountain View, near the high 4 Gallery
Uintah Mountains.
Badlands near Drumheller, Alberta
El Malpais National Monument in western New Mexico
is named after the Spanish word malpas, meaning bad
Badlands of Hells Half-Acre, Natrona County,
The Big Muddy Badlands in Saskatchewan, Canada,
gained notoriety as a hideout for outlaws. There is a large
badland area in Alberta, Canada, particularly in the valley
of the Red Deer River, where Dinosaur Provincial Park
is located, as well as in Drumheller, where The Royal
Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology is located.

Panoramic view of Las Mdulas, Spain

Valle de la Luna, San Juan, Argentina
Badlands incised into shale at the foot of the North
Caineville Plateau, Utah, within the pass carved by
the Fremont River known as the Blue Gate.

5 See also
Death Valley

6 References
[1] Badlands in Chamberss Encyclopdia.
George Newnes, 1961, Vol. 2, p. 47.
The Calanchi of Aliano, in the Italian region of Basilicata

A well-known badlands formation in New Zealand

the Putangirua Pinnacles, formed by the erosion of the
conglomerate of an old alluvial fan is located at the head
of a small valley near the southern tip of the North Island.
Other badlands can be found in Italy, known as
Calanchi. Some examples include Aliano, Basilicata,
and Val d'Orcia, Tuscany.


[2] A.J. Parsons and A.D. Abrahams, Editors (2009) Geomorphology of Desert Environments (2nd ed.) Springer
Science & Business Media ISBN 978-1402057182
[3] Bryan, R. and A. Yair, 1982a. Perspectives on studies of
badland geomorphology. In Badland geomorphology and
piping. R. Bryan and A. Yair (eds), 1-3. Norwich: Geo
[4] Badlands National Park South Dakota.. November 7,

[5] Badlands Erosion Rates.

[6] Thomas, D. (2011). Arid zone geomorphology: Process,
form and change in drylands. (3rd ed.). Wiley.

External links - Badlands National Park
Ocial Site
The Badlands: Natures Time Capsule Interesting
documentary about the badlands of South Dakota.


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