After deposition of immiscible, surface-active liquids on thin liquid films of higher surface tension, Marangoni stresses thin the liquid film around the surfactant droplet and induce a radially outward flow. We observed an oscillatory instability, caused by temporary trapping and subsequent release of subphase liquid from underneath the surfactant droplet. Height profiles of the thin liquid films were monitored using optical interferometry and fluorescence microscopy, both in the vicinity of the deposited surfactant droplet and at larger distances. Numerical calculations based on the lubrication approximation are compared to the experimental results. Good agreement between the experimental and calculated far-field dynamics and values of the spreading exponents was found. (C) 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.