It’s no secret that South Dakota is rich in history – but we usually think of it as history above the ground.

Today we’ll take a look below the ground.

The Badlands National Park in South Dakota covers 244,000 acres and contains one of the world’s richest fossil beds.  There’s also plenty to see without an archeological dig; just go to the website and have a look around!

One thing you’ll find out is that it’s not called the “Badlands” for nothing.  It’s a beautiful, but stark, environment that must be respected.

The Badlands formed over millions and millions of years. The layers are composed of tiny grains of sediments such as sand, silt, and clay that have been cemented together into sedimentary rocks.  Here’s information from the National Parks Service:

The sedimentary rock layers of Badlands National Park were deposited during the late Cretaceous Period (67 to 75 million years ago) throughout the Late Eocene (34 to 37 million years ago) and Oligocene Epochs (26 to 34 million years ago).

The lighter-colored Sharps Formation was deposited from 28 to 30 million years ago by wind and water as the climate continued to dry and cool.

A thick layer of volcanic ash known as the Rockyford Ash was deposited 30 million years ago, forming the bottom layer of the Sharps Formation.

The tannish brown Brule Formation was deposited between 30 and 34 million years ago.

The greyish Chadron Formation was deposited between 34 and 37 million years ago by rivers across a flood plain.

The black Pierre Shale was deposited between 69 and 75 million years ago when a shallow, inland sea stretched across what is now the Great Plains.

So you see, it took a great deal of geological work to put the Badlands together.   And that makes the area rich in fossil species.

The Badlands have seen a lot of changes over the years – but one thing that hasn’t changed in South Dakota is the need to call 811 before you  dig.  Locating those underground lines and cables is a must-do before ANY excavation takes place.    Just make that free call to 811 at least 48 hours before your intended work is to begin (weekends and holidays excluded) and you’ll soon find your job site has sprouted locator flags to tell you where those underground lines are buried.

Oh – and that line locating service is also FREE.

So whoever you are – homeowner, contractor, professional excavator, farmer, rancher – the 811 service is there for YOU, 24/7/365.  Come see us at South Dakota 811 for more information.

Until next week, safe digging!

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