Double-pulse laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) was recently proposed for the analysis of underwater samples, since it overcomes the drawbacks of rapid plasma quenching and of large continuum emission, typical of single-pulse ablation. Despite the attractiveness of the method, this approach suffers nevertheless from a poor spectroscopic reproducibility, which is partially due to the scarce reproducibility of the cavitation bubble induced by the first laser pulse, since pressure and dimensions of the bubble strongly affect plasma emission. In this work, we investigated the reproducibility and the dynamics of the cavitation bubble induced on a solid target in water, and how they depend on pulse duration, energy, and wavelength, as well as on target composition. Results are discussed in terms of the effects on the laser ablation process produced by the crater formation and by the interaction of the laser pulse with floating particles and gas bubbles. This work, preliminary to the optimization of the spectroscopic signal, provides an insight of the phenomena occurring during laser ablation in water, together with useful information for the choice of the laser source to be used in the apparatus.
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