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Badands Erosion Study EarthCache

Hidden : 01/10/2013
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Geocache Description:

Welcome to Badlands National Park. This EarthCache is part of a larger GPS Adventure Activity Book. If you would like to complete the entire adventure and earn a patch, then download the booklet (2.5 MB PDF) or stop by the Ben Reifel Visitor Center to pick up a printed copy ($5).

Erosion began in the Badlands about 500,000 years ago when the Cheyenne River captured streams and rivers flowing from the Black Hills into the Badlands region. Before 500,000 years ago, streams and rivers carried sediments from the Black Hills building the rock layers we see today. Once the Black Hills streams and rivers were captured, erosion dominated over deposition. Modern rivers cut down through the rock layers, carving fantastic shapes into what had once been a flat floodplain. The Badlands erode at a rapid rate. Evidence suggests that they will erode completely away in another 500,000 years, giving them a life span of just one million years. Not a long period of time from a geologic perspective.
How quickly are the Badlands formations disappearing? You can help answer this question by participating in the Badlands Erosion Study.
In July 2011, four erosion markers were placed in the formations across from the visitor center. Use the GPS coordinates to locate the markers. Measure the distance from the top of the marker to the lowest point on the ground at the marker. The top of the marker is curved, so use a flat edge to help you get a good measurement. When you compare your measurement with the one taken on July 10, 2011 you will get a better understanding of just how fast the Badlands are eroding.
Safety First! Be prepared for your hike. Wear good walking shoes, carry water, and be prepared for the weather. Watch for traffic as you cross the road in the crosswalk. Rattlesnakes and cactus are prairie residents that you do not want to get too close to. Watch for them.

Fill in the distance you measure from the top of marker to lowest point on the ground.


GPS Coordinates

Distance from top of marker to lowest point on ground

July 10, 2011

Distance from top of marker to lowest point on ground Date:_______________


N 43.45.075

W 101.56.598

19 and 1/2 inches



N 43.45.175
W 101.56.661

20 and 1/8 inches



N 43.45.214

W 101.56.629
(Lower Marker)

19 and 1/4 inches



N 43.45.214

W 101.56.629

(Lower Marker)

22 inches



To log your cache, provide measurements from the four markers listed above. Answer the following questions.  

1.       How much has each location eroded since July 10, 2011?

2.       Carefully examine the sediments layers in the Badlands formations. Notice how the layers are composed of different sediment types.  Describe the sediment layer that appears to be eroding the fastest. Describe the sediment layer that appears to be eroding the slowest.

Additional Hints (No hints available.)