Deposition and Erosion - Badlands National Park, South Dakota

There are very few terrains that look so different from one another depending on where you are than in the Badlands of South Dakota. Driving the 31 mile road that traverses this rugged park, the landscape changes many time from jagged rock formations to mounds of rocks. They vary in forms of mountains, mesas, canyons, buttes and hoodoos. These formations also have very different layers of rock, often having very different and unusual color.

To explain the formation of the badlands as simply erosion would be a mistake although it is a major contributor to its development. The process of deposition was prominent in the building of the different layers of mineral material such as clay and sand. Each layer solidified and was then covered with the next one over a period of almost 50 million years. When the layers solidified, erosion from wind and water created the many different landscapes that are found there today. 

This photo, taken at the extreme eastern end of the park, shows the jaggedness of the peaks. If you at the foreground, you can see how the erosion created these short rock formations that extend well behind and to either side of where I am standing. I have only visited this place once and am really hopeful that I can get back there soon.