A model is proposed which attempts to explain the complete ‘burst cycle’. This model views the wall streak as a sub-boundary layer, within the conventionally defined boundary layer, and the lift-up stage of bursting either as an upwelling motion of this sub-boundary layer which is similar to a local, convected separation or, equivalently, as the consequence of a vortex roll-up. ‘Sweeps’ are thought to represent the passage of a previous burst from further upstream. They appear either to impress on the wall streak the temporary adverse pressure gradient required to bring about its lifting or, alternatively, to provide the outer vortex which rolls up with the vortex associated with the wall streak. The model is also used to explain how the interactions between a burst and a sweep bring about (i) breakup, as well as (ii) new wall streaks further downstream.
Arguments are presented to demonstrate that the three kinds of oscillatory growth reported by Kim, Kline & Reynolds (1971) may be associated with just one type of flow structure: the stretched and lifted vortex described by Kline et al. (1967).