The time dependence of catastrophic optical mirror damage (COMD) is investigated for cw operation of AlGaAs-GaAs quantum well lasers. The apparent Arrhenius parameters (i.e., the activation energy and pre-exponential factor) for the rate process leading to COMD are determined. In particular, we compare the rate process for various cleaved facets with and without a subsequent plasma oxidation step. Analysis of the experimental Arrhenius parameters indicates that surface reactions on the corroded facets are responsible for facet degradation accompanied by heating. A tentative model of the facet heating that ultimately leads to COMD is presented.