Difference Between Badlands and Black Hills

Badlands and Black Hills are geographical landscapes used to attract tourists but are not the same. They are distinguished by geographic districts and geologic provinces.


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Badlands are barren landscapes where the soft sedimentary rock has been greatly destroyed by water and water.

The Black Hills are a small and deserted mountain range that emerges from North America in western South Dakota and extends into Wyoming, United States.

Key Takeaways

  1. Badlands are areas characterized by extensive erosion, resulting in steep, rugged terrain, while Black Hills are small mountain ranges featuring forested slopes and granite outcrops.
  2. Badlands lack vegetation due to the harsh environment, while Black Hills have diverse plant life, including ponderosa pine forests.
  3. Both formations are located in South Dakota and are popular destinations for outdoor activities, with the Badlands offering unique geological formations and the Black Hills providing hiking, rock climbing, and wildlife viewing opportunities.

Badlands vs Black Hills

Badlands is a region in southwestern South Dakota canyons with semi-humid climate and little greenery composed of sedimentary rocks tracing back to 75 million years. Black Hills is a region of thick black evergreen forests in southwestern South Dakota formed due to granitic and volcanic rocks tracing back to 40 million years.

Comparison Table

Parameter of comparisonBadlandBlack Hills
AgeIt was formed up to 75 million yearsIt is dated back as far as 45 million years
Erosion rateIt occurs one inch per yearIt corrodes at about one inch per 1000 years
FormationMainly originates from the deposition of erosion of sedimentArises from volcanic activity, metamorphic disturbance
Minerals presentMinerals present are Chalcedony and CalciteIt includes quartz and feldspar
ColourThe colors alternate from dark black to bright clay and finally to red scoriaIt does not alternate colors

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What is Badland?

Badlands are a type of arid topography made up of rich clay soil that has been considerably eroded by water and wind. This can be caused by the destruction of vegetation by pollution, overgrazing, or acid mine drainage.

Badlands is characterized by high drainage density and minimal vegetation with steep slopes. It is very difficult to walk on foot and unfavorable for agricultural purposes.

Badlands are commonly found in every part of the continent except Antarctica because of their Ecological conditions.

They are similar to the desert but have a few variations such as instead of sandstone and yellow sand, it has red sand and terracotta.

Examples of Badlands created due to mining include the Roman gold mine of las medulas located in northern Spain and the Cheltenham Badland located in Ontario was produced by poor farming practices.

Previously, Badlands was formerly called Mesa Biome which is an unusual biome of extreme terrain elevation. The terrain can range from flats, and canyons, to tall spires of terracotta.

They are usually characterized by the presence of thin to nonexistent regolith and the colors alter from dark black to bright clay to red scoria.

There are five variations of Badlands which include the Badlands plateau, Eroded Badlands, Modified Badlands plateau, Wooded Badlands plateau, and Modified wooden Badlands Plateau.

What is Black Hills?

The Black Hills are a small, deserted mountain range surging from the Great Plains of North America in western South Dakota and extending into northeastern Wyoming, USA.  It is usually called the island of trees in a sea of grass.

The Black Hills derived its name from a black image that is produced by thick pines which cover the hill and was named by the Native Americans present at that time.

The Black Hills is an interpretation of the Lakota Paha Sapa, which means hills that are black and are also dwelling hold to the highest elevations of continental North America

It is the United States’ oldest mountain range and the Hills cover a region of 125 miles long and 65 miles wide.

The Black Hills are considered a holy ground because of their dark appearance

due to the presence of prairies.

Volcanic eruptions, Metamorphic disturbance, and disintegrated Granite are the features of the Black hill and it was also formed over 45 million years ago from the uplifting of granite rock.

Types of rock present include Shale, Sandstone, Granite, Slate, and Quartzite while the ages of rock include Precambrian, Paleozoic, Mesozoic, Cenozoic, and Tertiary. It is rich in minerals such as quartz and feldspar.

Main Differences Between Badlands and Black Hills

  1. Badlands are distinguished by bad weather, little water, and rugged terrain while the Black Hills are defined by whirling hills and plentiful trees.
  2. Badlands is a type of dry terrain where sedimentary rocks and rich clay soil has been deteriorated by water and wind while the Black Hills is an isolated peak range which is located in western Dakota and extends to Wyoming in the United States.
  3. Badlands is caused by overgrazing, pollution, and acid mine drainage whereas, Black Hills are caused by volcanic eruptions and eroded granite.
  4. Types of rocks present in Badland are mudstones, clay stones, limestone, and volcanic ash meanwhile, the type of rocks present in the Black Hills are Shale, quartzite, granite, slate, and sandstone.
  5. Badlands are commonly found in all continents apart from Antarctica whereas, Black Hills are found only in specific countries such as Canada, Spain, Argentina, Italy, and New Zealand and not on every continent.
  1. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-94-015-8254-4_9
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780128130544000095
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