We present observations, measurements, and modeling of an enigmatic eolian bedform pattern of cross-wind alternating, wind-parallel corridors of megaripples and smaller bedforms (“megaripple stripes”). Megaripple corridors have taller bedforms, longer wavelengths, and coarser surface sediment than intervening smaller bedform corridors. We document examples from Earth (Argentina, Namibia, United States, Iran, Peru, and China) and Mars. Using a reduced complexity model, we show that megaripples and megaripple stripes initiate under the influence of two eolian transport length scales: long-hop saltons and short-hop reptons. The self-organizing stripe pattern manifests in a narrow range of repton concentrations and develops into more typical megaripples as the surface repton concentration increases. We show that the three-dimensional topography of simulated megaripple stripes closely resembles natural megaripple stripes at Oceano Dunes, California, USA. By tracking repton surface concentration and spatial autocorrelation during simulations, we show that the striped pattern initiates from local repton concentrations of sufficient size to serve as megaripple nuclei that seed the striped pattern. Results suggest that megaripple stripes may have a simple and robust formation mechanism.

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