Marine & Environmental Sciences Faculty Proceedings, Presentations, Speeches, Lectures


Quaternary Landscape Development and Landslides, Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Event Name/Location

2012 GSA Annual Meeting and Exposition, Charlotte, North Carolina, November 4-7, 2012

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



The goal of this study is to advance our understanding of the Quaternary landscape development in the Badlands National Park, South Dakota through GIS-assisted analysis of landforms within the park. As noted by Evanoff et al. (2010), White River incision and cliff retreat of the valley wall appear to have occurred almost entirely within the past 5 million years. Although dominated by erosional features, numerous depositional features offer insights into recent changes in the region, including climate change. Depositional features include landslides, grass-covered parabolic sand dunes, layered deposits of windblown dust (loess) on the tablelands, cliff top eolian deposits, and sod tables. 14C analyses from sod table paleosols give estimated erosion rates for the valley wall of 1-4 cm/yr (Leithauser, Burkhart, and Baldauf, 2010). Our goal is to integrate erosion and mass wasting data in a digital map suitable for detailed analyses of geological processes. To achieve this goal we are 1) mapping bedrock and surficial deposits at a 1:1000 scale in a section of the Wall of the White River valley in the Badlands National Park, 2) integrating these geological data into a GIS format, 3) creating a narrative history of Quaternary landscape development, and 4) creating a landslide hazards map suitable for use by park personnel. In this first phase of the project, using data gathered in three field seasons, we created a digital base map of Badlands National Park in ESRI’s ArcGIS using field gather vector data and raster imagery. Point, line and polygon data were gathered with the use of both Trimble and Garmin GPS units, together with field notes, drawings and hyperlinked digital images at specific landslide locations. After gathering and importing the field data, a geodatabase and specific feature classes were created and overlaid on high resolution Bing imagery. Analysis was then performed on the layers to create distinct spatial and temporal boundaries based on geologic beds and historic activity. This state of the art digital map allows the map user greater access to spatial/geologic information and interpretation of the field area than a traditional geologic map.


© Copyright 2012 The Geological Society of America (GSA), all rights reserved. Permission is hereby granted to the author(s) of this abstract to reproduce and distribute it freely, for noncommercial purposes. Permission is hereby granted to any individual scientist to download a single copy of this electronic file and reproduce up to 20 paper copies for noncommercial purposes advancing science and education, including classroom use, providing all reproductions include the complete content shown here, including the author information. All other forms of reproduction and/or transmittal are prohibited without written permission from GSA Copyright Permissions.

Additional Comments

Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs. Vol. 44, No. 7, p.259



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