Initial Publication Date: June 16, 2006

Geology and Physiography of the Badlands

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.
Landsat image of the Badlands (bluish-white region).
Landsat image of the Badlands (bluish-white region). Details

The Badlands are a type of arid terrain with clay-rich soil that has been extensively eroded by wind and water. Canyons, ravines, gullies, hoodoos and other such geological forms are common in The Badlands. The Badlands usually have a spectacular color display that alternates from dark black/blue coal strata to bright clays to red scoria. Some of the most famous fossil beds are found in the Badlands, where the forces of erosion have exposed the sedimentary layers and the lack of vegetation cover makes surveying relatively easy (Wikipedia (more info) ).

The Badlands are characterized by unusual topographic features. These features are a product of the erosion of sedimentary beds. The Badlands Wall divides the southern White River from the northern uplands. This upland is formed by the Brule Formation, which is composed of sand and clay. The formation includes several minor west and northwest faults (Ellwood, 1996 ).

Badlands National Park. Details

Geology of Badlands

Resources about the Geology of the Badlands

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