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Badlands near Drumheller, Alberta.
Badlands of Hell's Half-Acre, Natrona County, Wyoming.
Panoramic view of Las Médulas, Spain.

A badlands (also badland) is a type of arid terrain where softer sedimentary rocks and clay-rich soils have been extensively eroded by wind and water. It can resemble malpaís, a terrain of volcanic rock. Canyons, ravines, gullies, hoodoos and other such geological forms are common in badlands. They are often difficult to navigate by foot. Badlands often have a spectacular colour display that alternates from dark black/blue coal stria to bright clays to red scoria.

Contents

Features

The term "badlands" represents a consensus in North America: the Lakota called the topography "Makhóšiča", literally bad land, while French trappers called it "les mauvaises terres à traverser" – "the bad lands to cross". The Spanish called it tierra baldía ("waste land") and cárcava. The term badlands is also apt: badlands contain steep slopes, loose dry soil, slick clay, and deep sand, all of which impede travel and other uses. Badlands form in arid regions with infrequent but intense rain-showers, sparse vegetation, and soft sediments: a recipe for massive erosion.

Some of the most famous fossil beds are found in badlands, where erosion rapidly exposes the sedimentary layers and the scant cover of vegetation makes surveying and fossil hunting relatively easy.

Coal seams are also exposed in some badlands, so historically, coal mining districts have developed in badlands areas. An example of this is the Drumheller district of the Red Deer River in Alberta, where the Atlas Coal Mine is the last of 149 mines that operated in those badlands.

Locations

Some of the best-known badland formations can be found in the United States and Canada. In the U.S., Makoshika State Park in Montana, Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota and Badlands National Park in South Dakota together form a series of extensive badlands formations. Another popular area of badland formations is Toadstool Geologic Park in the Oglala National Grassland of northwestern Nebraska. The Big Muddy Badlands in Saskatchewan, Canada gained notoriety as a hideout for outlaws. There is a sizable badland area in Alberta, Canada, particularly in the valley of the Red Deer River where Dinosaur Provincial Park is located. The Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Drumheller, Alberta and Dinosaur National Monument in Utah are also badlands settings, and exhibit fossils found in the area. A small badlands called Hell's Half-Acre is present in Natrona County, Wyoming. It is famous as one of the locations for the filming of Starship Troopers (1997). 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 Uintah Mountains.

Arguably the most well known badlands formation in New Zealand, the Putangirua Pinnacles – formed by the erosion of the conglomerate of an old alluvial fan – are located at the head of a small valley near the southern tip of the North island. A famous European badland is the Bardenas Reales near Tudela, Spain.

Although most badland scenery is natural, there are some spectacular examples produced by mining, such as the Roman gold mine of Las Médulas in northern Spain.

References

http://www.nps.gov/badl/

See also

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Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Contents

The Badlands is a region in the USA that includes western South Dakota and North Dakota marked by rugged terrain and formations that resemble a science fiction landscape of another world. These rock formations take on the shapes of domes, twisted canyons and slanted walls, often striped in different colors.

  • Badlands National Park, covering about 242,000 acres, is located in southwestern South Dakota. The park contains the largest, protected mixed grass prairie in the United States. The most endangered land mammal in North America, the black footed ferret, was re-introduced to the 64,000-acres Badlands Wilderness Area. The park also contains the world's richest fossil beds from the Oligocene epoch, dating back around 20-35 million years. The park hosts approximately a million visitors each year.

Understand

During the youth of the Rocky Mountains, about 60 million years ago, large number of streams carried eroded soil, rock and other materials eastward from the range. These materials were deposited on the vast lowlands which are today called the Great Plains. Dense vegetation grew in these lowlands, then fell into swamps, and was later buried by new layers of sediments. Millions of years later, this plant material turned into lignite coal. Some of the plant life became petrified, and we can find large amounts of exposed petrified wood in the badlands. While sediments continued to be deposited, more streams cut down through the soft rock layers, carving the variety of mesas, buttes, rock formations, pinnacles, spires and valleys are the features of the badlands seen today.

While the badlands terrain may appear to be barren, there is a great variety of wildlife and plant life here. The minimal annual precipitation feeds the grasses and wildflowers of the badlands. The brilliant colors of the blooms add to the palette of grays, browns, reds, ochres and greens of the land. The wildlife includes nearly two hundred species of birds, deer, prairie dogs, elk and bison.

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Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also badlands

English

Proper noun

Singular
Badlands

Plural
-

Badlands

  1. Badlands National Park, a national park in South Dakota

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