badlands erosion


Bisti Badlands


The Badlands in Chicago?

Just by quickly looking at this harshly eroded landscape, you might think you were at Badlands National Park in South Dakota. In reality, this image is actually from Thornton Quarry just south of Chicago, Illinois; hardly a place where you would expect to see badlands-like formations.

Badlands landscapes are predominantly erosional terrains. The rocks in these dry terrains are generally softer sedimentary rocks, which can more easily be eroded by wind and water. Features like canyons, ravines and gullies are therefore common in badlands. 

At the Thornton Quarry, they unintentionally create pseudo-badlands formations by dumping large piles of excavated, fine-grained loose sediments. These large piles of sediment are subject to the same erosional forces of wind and water, but because the sediment isn’t lithified, rills and gulllies quickly form along its surface. The surficial processes create noticeable effects under much quicker time-scales than they do in actual badlands areas, but their results are remarkably similar!

(Full view shows you’re definitely not at a real scenic locale!)

Images by author


The amazing folks from More Than Just Parks spent weeks in South Dakota’s Badlands National Park capturing these awesome wildlife, nature, sunrise, sunset, and night sky shots - surrounded by almost barren sediments eroded from the Black Hills and deposited about 30 million years ago, when the land was much wetter. Original caption:

BADLANDS 8K is the culmination of several weeks spent filming in the rugged Badlands of South Dakota. Situated in the heart of the Northern Great Plains, Badlands National Park spans 244,000 acres of spectacular landscapes, diverse wildlife, and the largest undisturbed mixed grass prairie in the United States. Journey with More Than Just Parks to discover the land where bison still roam and towers rise from the prairie in dazzling formations. This is the Badlands. Filmed primarily in 8K.
To see more National Park films or learn more about More Than Just Parks, visit our website:

Watch on

Nice driveby road view of the sandstone pillars in Badlands National Park


Walking up to overlook, Badlands National park.