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The energy influx delivered by an rf plasma to a metal substrate has been studied by a calorimetric method with a thermal probe. By changing the substrate voltage, the influence of the kinetic energy of the charge carriers to the thermal power could be determined. The measured energy influx for an argon plasma can be explained mainly by ions, electrons, and their recombination. In the case of an oxygen plasma, where the energy influx is under comparable conditions about 50% higher, also other transfer mechanisms such as surface-aided atom association and relaxation of rovibrational states have to be taken into consideration. © 2000 American Institute of Physics.