This paper presents the development mechanism of surface plasmas of carbon-fiber-cathode electron beam source and its effects on the operation of a high-power microwave source, reflex triode vircator powered by about 400 kV, 9 kA, about 350 ns pulsed power accelerator. Based on the current and voltage characteristics of diodes using carbon fiber cathode, the axial expansion velocity is 1.2 cm/μs and the delay time of explosive emission is 2 ns. Further, the comparison of carbon fiber and stainless steel cathodes is made. It was found that the threshold electric field for carbon fiber cathode is about 25 kV/cm, and the delay time of explosive emission and threshold electric field for stainless steel cathode is, respectively, 4.5 ns and 40 kV/cm. The radial expansion velocity of individual emitting centers is estimated to be 1.2 cm/μs, equal to the axial expansion velocity, and this shows the cathode plasma spots spherically expand. In the optimal diode gap for microwave irradiation or at the average current density of 230 A/cm2 using carbon fiber cathode, the screening radius was 0.67 cm, the lifetime of cathode emitting centers was about 60 ns, the cathode plasma density was 5 × 1015 cm−3, and the Debye radius of cathode plasma was <3 × 10−5 cm−3. The self-quenching behavior of explosive emission centers occurs, due to the process of cathode surface material release and cooling. The generation and self-quenching of emitting centers, and screening effect of cathode plasmas determine the increase and decrease of cathode emitting area, which is independent of the current density and background pressure. The relation between the lifetime of virtual cathode and background pressure was discussed. It was found, both theoretically and experimentally, that a lower background pressure indicates a longer microwave pulse or a better microwave waveform. It was observed by comparison that the temporary behavior of cathode emitting area is similar to the development process of microwave pulse. The changes of emitting area affects the stability of beam current injected into the virtual cathode region, further leading to the fluctuation of microwave pulse of vircator.