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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

A badlands (also badland) is/are a type of dry 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 color 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 ("gully"). 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 semi-arid or 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 historical site preserves the last of 139 mines that operated in the badlands.


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 and Badlands National Park in South Dakota together form a series of extensive badland formations. Theodore Roosevelt National Park is a United States National Park comprising three geographically separated areas of badlands in western North Dakota and was named for U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt. Another popular area of badland formations is Toadstool Geologic Park in the Oglala National Grassland of northwestern Nebraska. Dinosaur National Monument in Colorado and Utah are also badlands settings. A small badland called Hell's Half-Acre is present in Natrona County, Wyoming. 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.

El Malpais National Monument in western New Mexico, and is named after the Spanish word malpaís, meaning bad lands.

The Big Muddy Badlands in Saskatchewan, Canada, gained notoriety as a hideout for outlaws. There is a large badland area in Alberta, Canada, particularly in the valley of the Red Deer River where Dinosaur Provincial Park is located as well as in Drumheller where The Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology is located.

A 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.

The Bardenas Reales near Tudela, and Tabernas Desert in Tabernas, Almería, Spain, are examples in Europe.

The Valle de la Luna ("Valley of the Moon") is one of many examples of badland formations in midwestern Argentina. This geological formation is the only place in the world where nearly all of the Triassic is represented in an undisturbed sequence of rock deposits.

The badlands of the Gutingkeng Formation in southern Taiwan are the only example of badlands in a tropical climate. The formation has a thickness of 3-4 km and cover over 100,000 hectares.Template:Cn

Although most badland scenery is natural, there are some examples produced by mining, such as the Roman gold mine of Las Médulas in northern Spain. An example of badlands produced by poor farming practices is the Cheltenham Badlands in Caledon, Ontario.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Badlands" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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