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A friend recommended I watch this Chinese language video 航拍西藏 2018 (Aerial photography in Tibet) and the HD drone video of scenery is stunning.

After about 37 minutes into the video, there are shots of these tall 3D structures that I don't understand at all. The shapes look familliar and remind me of something I think I saw in California, perhaps the Anza-Borrego desert in California, but it was nothing like this.

I'm told that the area is called 札达土林 in Chinese, and that seems to be Zanda County in Tibet

update: See for example 31.5230N, 79.6900E and this answer which recommends the name Zhada Earth Forest National Geopark

What is it exactly that produces these amazing 3D layered and ridged structures in China, and what are they called?

札达土林 Zanda County in Tibet

札达土林 Zanda County in Tibet

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The terrain examples show some striking similarities to what is referred to in the United States as "Badlands" - a type of terrain formed by layered sedimentary strata of rock that is soft enough to be eroded by wind and water into recognizably similar features. For example, here is South Dakota Badlands National Park:

Badlands terrain in South Dakota

Anecdotally, I have seen similar terrain in numerous areas of the Western United States, some appearing almost identical to the examples in the question. Furthermore, as mentioned in the updated question, the terrain examples shown for Zanda County, Tibet, are also referred to as the "Earth Forest"; further research of this specific location indicates that it was likely formed by similar erosive processes acting on "sediment stratum [...] mainly composed by sandstone and clay", comparable to the processes forming the various areas of Badlands in the United States.

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks - I expanded my answer, still including that edit, to add some additional proof including a reference directly about the exact location in question. $\endgroup$ – dplmmr May 9 at 17:18
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    $\begingroup$ This has turned into an excellent answer, thank you very much! $\endgroup$ – uhoh May 9 at 17:20
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    $\begingroup$ You can see similar terrain (except with red rocks) in Bryce Canyou National Park: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bryce_Canyon_National_Park and on a smaller scale, in a number of other places in the US west. I think the cause is weathering/erosion of sedimentary rock with layers of different hardness. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf May 9 at 17:35
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    $\begingroup$ @jamesqf how about elsewhere? Does Mars have badlands? $\endgroup$ – uhoh May 9 at 17:41
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    $\begingroup$ This type of terrain is common on the eastern side of the Rockies from Arizona to Drumheller Alberta. It is often associated with lake and inland sea type deposits of unconsolidated or poorly consolidated sediments. $\endgroup$ – Friddy May 9 at 20:27

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