Quaternary Landscape Evolution of the White River Badlands of South Dakota

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Quaternary history of the Badlands

The White River Badlands of South Dakota have some of the fasted documented modern erosion rates in North America that result in characteristically rugged terrain.  These processes are also responsible for vast exposures of Quaternary sediment that provide an opportunity to investigate the long-term evolution of these common arid and semi-arid landscapes.  Dr. Rawling’s projects here have focused on eolian systems including cliff-top deposits, sand dunes and loess.  These deposits have been intermittently active throughout the last 15,000 years and are dated with radiocarbon and optical age estimates.  The White River Badlands were also significant dust sources in the Pleistocene, and the focus of current research is investigating the genesis of dust there.

Funding source: American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund


Publications (* indicates undergraduate student)
  • Burkhart, P.A., Livingston, J., Rawling 3rd J.E., Hanson, P.R., Mahan, S., Benton, R., Heffron, E.*, Jahn, M., Anderson, T., and Page B. 2008: Late Pleistocene through Holocene Landscape Evolution of the White River Badlands, South Dakota.  Geological Society of America Field Guide 10, 217-233.

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