Impacts of Resource Development on Native American Lands
Integrating Research and Education > Impacts on Native Lands > Pine Ridge > Hydrology

Hydrology of the Pine Ridge Reservation

This case study was written by Ellen Dockery, a lower division undergraduate student who is not an earth science major, as part of the DLESE Community Services Project: Integrating Research in Education. The pages in this case study reflect the personal views of the student author and not of MSU, SERC or the NSF.
Black Hills Hydrologic Setting.
Black Hills Hydrologic Setting. Details

The Missouri River divides South Dakota both geologically and economically. The more populated eastern side is characterized by agriculture as it receives higher levels of precipitation. The more arid western side is economically designated by mining and tourism (Geology Field Camp Guide ( This site may be offline. ) ).

The hydrology of the Black Hills is largely dictated by both the geology and topography. The majority of the streams have springs located in Paleozoic formations. The base flow of most Black Hills streams originate in the higher elevations, where increased precipitation and lower temperatures result in excess water being available for spring flow and stream flow. However, much of this water is absorbed as the streams cross over limestone and sandstone exposures which are porous and permeable and thus allow stream water to enter into bedrock aquifers (Black Hills Hydrology Study (more info) ). For long-term trends in precipitation from 1931-1998 in the Black Hills click here (more info) .

The Badlands occupy the White River which was formed due to tectonic and climatic changes. The Badlands Wall serves to divide the drainage of rivers. The White River drains to the south, and the Cheyenne River drains north (Geology Field Camp Guide ( This site may be offline. ) ).


White River. Details

Hydrology of the Black Hills and Badlands

Resources about the Hydrology of the Black Hills and Badlands
  • Black Hills Hydrology Study (more info) This USGS site contains information on the geology units, topography, and precipitation rates of the Black Hills as it relates to the hydrology.
  • Geology Field Camp Guide ( This site may be offline. ) This 14-page PDF from the National Park Service provides background information and a comprehensive road log for a two-day field trip in the White River Badlands of South Dakota. The information and activities are suitable for college students, and emphasizes surficial processes in the sediments of the late Cretaceous, Eocene, and Oligocene.


For ideas on how to use these webpages in a classroom, a Study Guide is provided.




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