The evolution of the argon metastable states density has been studied by absorption spectroscopy in power-modulated plasmas of argon and a mixture of 4% silane in argon. A small concentration of silane suppresses the argon metastable states density by molecular quenching. This molecular quenching adds to the electronic collisional dissociation to increase the silane dissociation rate as compared with pure silane plasmas. Using time-resolved emission spectroscopy, the role of metastable states in excitation to the argon 2P2 state has been determined in comparison with production from the ground state. In silane plasmas, emission from SiH* is due essentially to electron impact dissociation of silane, whereas in 4% silane-in-argon plasmas, emission from SiH* seems to be due to electron impact excitation of the SiH ground state, These studies demonstrate that argon is not simply a buffer gas but has an influence on the dissociation rate in plasma-assisted deposition of amorphous silicon using argon-diluted silane plasmas.