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The images and interpretive techniques in this publication can be used for several purposes: visualizing how migrating bedforms deposit complicated cross-stratified beds, predicting the internal structure of bedforms that have a known morphology and behavior, interpreting the behavior of bedforms from their morphology and internal structure, or reconstructing the morphology and behavior of bedforms that deposited cross-stratified beds that are observed in the field (either to learn about the bedforms that produced a specific deposit or to learn about how bedforms behave in general). For convenience all of the computer-generated depositional situations are cross-referenced in Appendix C.

Unfortunately for the field geologist, interpreting cross-bedding is often more complicated than matching illustrations and outcrops, because the curvature and orientation of outcrops can cause radical variations in the appearance of a single structure. Moreover, different bedform assemblages can produce structures that are so similar in single vertical sections that the structures are virtually indistinguishable. A more powerful investigative technique is to measure cross-bed strikes and dips and make a three-dimensional map of the beds that are being studied. These observations can then be compared with the computer-generated examples. Observed structures also can be interpreted by trial-and-error.

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