Sunday, December 2, 2007

Badlands National Park

The Badlands of South Dakota were not so bad at all. Flat Stanley didn’t have a lot of time to explore all of it, but he did get to see many of the highlight views from the Highway 240 loop that traverses through the park.

The striped, serrated scenery was created due to a combination of plate tectonics, raising and cracking the Earth’s crust, and erosion, wind, rainwater and freeze and thaw cycles wearing away at the exposed surfaces through time. The layers themselves are made of relatively soft, sedimentary materials; sand, silt, clay, and volcanic ash. This soft substrate makes erosion a fairly rapid process. The erosion process is continuing today, meaning that the Badlands you see today may not be the Badlands you see in a decade. Scientists theorize that in about 500,000 years, it will just be another hilly prairie land.

The Badlands are known to be one of the world’s richest mammal fossil beds. It is speculated that the history of the Badlands included a time when much of the area was submerged, and it served as a watering hole for the large variety of mammals and retiles that left their boney remains behind. Unfortunately, Flat Stanley did not get a chance to explore the fossils due to time constraints.

In the mist of the morning…

Badlands Range

Cool, a rainbow of dirt!

Me, in the bad Badlands. :-)