All this was hypothetically interesting until 1973, when an odd occurrence made it suddenly momentous: water in Yellowstone Lake, in the heart of the park, began to run over the banks at the lake's southern end, flooding a meadow, while at the opposite end of the lake the water mysteriously flowed away. Geologists did a hasty survey and discovered that a large area of the park had developed an ominous bulge. This was lifting up one end of the lake and causing the water to run out at the other, as would happen if you lifted one side of a child's wading pool. By 1984, the whole central region of the park—several dozen square miles— was more than three feet higher than it had been in 1924, when the park was last formally surveyed. Then in 1985, the whole of the central part of the park subsided by eight inches. It now seems to be swelling again.
The geologists realized that only one thing could cause this—a restless magma chamber. Yellowstone wasn't the site of an ancient supervolcano; it was the site of an active one. It was also at about this time that they were able to work out that the cycle of Yellowstone's eruptions averaged one massive blow every 600,000 years. The last one, interestingly enough, was 630,000 years ago. Yellowstone, it appears, is due.