Where bedforms migrate during deposition, they move upward (climb) with respect to the generalized sediment surface. Sediment deposited on each lee slope and not eroded during the passage of a following trough is left behind as a cross-stratified bed. Because sediment is thus transferred from bedforms to underlying strata, bedforms must decrease in cross-sectional area or in number, or both, unless sediment lost from bedforms during deposition is replaced with sediment transported from outside the depositional area. Where sediment is transported solely by downcurrent migration of two-dimensional bedforms, the mean thickness of cross-stratified beds is equal to the decrease in bedform cross-sectional area divided by the migration distance over which that size decrease occurs; where bedforms migrate more than one spacing while depositing cross-strata, bed thickness is only a fraction of bedform height.

Equations that describe this depositional process explain the downcurrent decrease in size of tidal sand waves in St Andrew Bay, Florida, and the downwind decrease in size of transverse aeolian dunes on the Oregon coast. Using the same concepts, dunes that deposited the Navajo, De Chelly, and Entrada Sandstones are calculated to have had mean heights between several tens and several hundreds of metres.