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Eolian dune fields self-organize through a hierarchy of autogenic processes that culminate at the dune-field pattern level. Interactions that occur between flow and grains, flow and dunes, and dunes and dunes define the levels of this hierarchy. These autogenic processes occur within sets of boundary conditions, which impart a uniqueness to each emergent dune-field pattern. The interpretation of allogenic forcing on dune-field patterns and their stratigraphic record requires an understanding of how these external environmental variables are manifested at the dune-field pattern level. The fundamental process in eolian systems is a wind event with basic boundary conditions of sediment supply, sediment availability, and the transport capacity of the wind. It is hypothesized that the basic high-frequency boundary conditions are remade at each level of the hierarchy of autogenic processes or have a cumulative effect over many wind events. The influence of these boundary conditions “trickles up” to and is manifested at the dune-field pattern level. Tectonic, climatic and hydrologic boundary conditions are low frequency and operate over much longer timescales than a wind event. It is hypothesized that these “trickle down” to be remade as high-frequency boundary conditions, which then trickle up. Analysis of the White Sands Dune Field in New Mexico supports these hypotheses by the manifestation of the influence of boundary conditions in the dune-field pattern. The dune field originated by wind deflation of a lacustrine sediment supply, which was made available episodically by climatic forcing that controlled the hydrodynamics of the tectonic basin. Although the dune-field pattern arose through autogenic dune interactions, the morphologies of which are ubiquitous throughout the field, the influence of boundary conditions is evident in the dune morphologies and field-scale pattern heterogeneity.

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