Badlands are a type of
arid terrainwhere softer sedimentary rocks and clay-rich soils have been extensively eroded by windand water. It can resemble malpaís, a terrain of volcanic rocks. 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.
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
fossilbeds are found in badlands, where erosion rapidly exposes the sedimentary layers and the scant cover of vegetationmakes surveyingand fossil hunting relatively easy.
Some of the best-known badland formations can be found in the
United Statesand Canada. In the U.S., Makoshika State Parkin Montana, Theodore Roosevelt National Parkin North Dakotaand Badlands National Parkin South Dakotatogether form a series of extensive badlands formations. Another popular area of badland formations is Toadstool Geologic Parkin the Oglala National Grasslandof northwestern Nebraska. The Big Muddy Badlandsin Saskatchewan, Canadagained notoriety as a hideout for outlaws. There is a sizable badland area in Alberta, Canada, particularly in the valley of the Red Deer Riverwhere Dinosaur Provincial Parkis located. The Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontologyin Drumheller, Albertaand Dinosaur National Monumentin Utahare 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).
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 Accona Desertnear Siena, Italy.Although most badland scenery is natural, there are some spectacular examples produced by mining, such as the Roman gold mineof Las Médulasin northern Spain.
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