Geomorphological Landscapes of the World

pp 29-38


Badlands of the Northern Great Plains: Hell with the Fires Out

  • Mark A. GonzalezAffiliated withGeoscientist with the Dakota Prairie Grasslands of the United States

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Badlands occur worldwide and are especially common in the Northern Great Plains of North America. Badlands form where the erosive power of slopewash reaches its maximum expression and is optimized by the combination of steep, local topography; weakly indurated, readily eroded bedrock; and sparsely vegetated hillslopes. Erosional landforms include finely rilled hillslopes, pipes, gullies, pedestals, and hoodoos. Landslides modify many slopes. Depositional and transportational landforms include pediments, fans, and terraces. Clinker is common; it forms when seams of lignite burn subterraneously and bake overlying rock into a naturally fired brick. Badlands of the Northern Great Plains contain paleontological records of the final days of dinosaurs and the emergence of mammals. Badlands capture the imagination with its geologic wonders, paleontological treasures, and spellbinding vistas.


Badlands clinker geomorphology Great Plains landforms