Abstract To understand the fault zone fluid flow-like structure, namely the ductile deformation structure, often observed in the geological field (e.g., Ramsay and Huber The techniques of modern structure geology, vol. 1: strain analysis, Academia Press, London, 1983; Hobbs and Ord Structure geology: the mechanics of deforming metamorphic rocks, Vol. I: principles, Elsevier, Amsterdam, 2015), we applied a theoretical approach to estimate the rate of deformation, the shear stress and the time to form a streak-line pattern in the boundary layer of viscous fluids. We model the dynamics of streak lines in laminar boundary layers for Newtonian and pseudoplastic fluids and compare the results to those obtained via laboratory experiments. The structure of deformed streak lines obtained using our model is consistent with experimental observations, indicating that our model is appropriate for understanding the shear rate, flow time and shear stress based on the profile of deformed streak lines in the boundary layer in Newtonian and pseudoplastic viscous materials. This study improves our understanding of the transportation processes in fluids and of the transformation processes in fluid-like materials. Further application of this model could facilitate understanding the shear stress and time history of the fluid flow-like structure of fault zones observed in the field.