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Cheltenham Badlands

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The Cheltenham Badlands are in Caledon, Ontario, on the southeast side of Olde Base Line Road, between Creditview and Chinguacousy Roads. The site occupies an area of approximately 0.4 square kilometers and features exposed and highly eroded Queenston shale. The Cheltenham Badlands are a significant educational site due to the readily visible geologic processes and the red color and the unique topography of the exposed shale make this a popular tourist site. The site is a Provincial Earth Sciences Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI) since it is considered one of the best examples of “badlands topography” in Ontario.

The Cheltenham Badlands sometimes referred to as the Chinguacousy Badlands, the Red Clay Hills, the Caledon Badlands, or the Inglewood Badlands, are approximately 3.8 km west of highway 10 on Olde Base Line Road near the villages of Inglewood and Cheltenham. The northern boundary of the badlands site is Peel Regional Road 12 (Olde Base Line Road). The total area of the property is 36.6 hectares and the exposed badlands occupies an area of approximately 0.4 square kilometers.

The Badlands are considered part of the Niagara Escarpment, which was designated a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve in 1990. Acting as a buffer zone between the undeveloped and natural portions of the escarpment and the more developed areas further to the south, the badlands site is designated as an Escarpment Protection Area. Under the Niagara Escarpment Plan, the badlands are also considered an Escarpment Access Park and the main trail of the Bruce Trail system crosses the site and is the starting point for the Caledon Hills Bruce Trail Club section. In addition to being considered a Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry designated Earth Sciences Area of Natural Scientific Interest, the Cheltenham Badlands are also part of an important groundwater discharge area, the Inglewood Slope Environmentally Sensitive Area, designated by the Credit Valley Conservation Authority. The cold water stream, at the base of the badlands, is a tributary of the Credit River, which drains into Lake Ontario.[citation needed]

The Badlands is an exposed section of the Queenston Formation, which was formed between 420 and 415 million years ago during the Middle and Late Ordovician periods. During this period, the collision of Gondwana into Laurentia resulted in the formation of the Taconic Mountains. The creation of these mountains also resulted in several basins, such as the Appalachian Basin and the Michigan Basin, in the interior of Laurentia. Over time, the erosion of these mountains resulted in the formation of the Queenston Delta, which drained into the Michigan Basin. The deposition of mud eroded from the mountains during the Middle and Late Ordovician period formed the Queenston Shale. The continuous deposition of the mud and sand from the mountains extended the Queenston Delta further into the Michigan Basin; however, as the mountains continued to erode, less and less mud and sand reached the delta, resulting in the formation of inter-layered beds of sandstone, shale, and limestone throughout the Silurian period. These inter-layered beds that overlay the Queenston Shale include Lower Silurian sandstones, such as the Whirlpool Formation, and dolostones, such as the Manitoulin Formation, which can be seen along the Niagara Escarpment. The Queenston Shale overlies the shales and the inter-bedded limestones of the Georgian Bay Formation. At the badlands site, glacial erosion of the overlaying sandstones and dolostones has caused the Queenston Formation to be the first layer of rock to underlie the soil. Wikipedia

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