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Badlands

From Academic Kids

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This article is about the type of terrain. Note that in the late 1800s, the term "Badlands" was extended to refer to urban regions of vice and crime. For the movie, see Badlands (movie).

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 badlands.

Badlands usually have a spectacular color display that alternates from dark black/blue coal stria to bright clays to red scoria.

Some of the most famous fossil beds are found in Badlands, where the forces of erosion have exposed the sedimentary layers and the lack of vegetation cover makes surveying relatively easy.

One of the most famous Badlands formations lies in the Dakotas. This area is home to Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota and Badlands National Park in South Dakota, and is the probable place of origin of the actual term "Badlands". The Lakota Indians called the place "mako sica", literally "bad lands", and French trappers called it "les mauvaises terres a traverser" - "the bad lands to cross". The naming is apt. Badlands are formed in areas of infrequent but intense rainshowers and sparse vegetation, a recipe for devastating erosion. The landscape is all steep slopes, loose soil, and clay, which does not exactly lend itself to cross-country jaunts.

Another popular area of badlands formations is Toadstool Geologic Park, in the Oglala National Grassland of northwestern Nebraska.

There is also a sizeable area of Badlands in Alberta. The Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Drumheller, Alberta exhibits fossils found in the area.

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