Probably you would have swarms of earthquakes and some surface uplift and possibly some changes in the patterns of behavior of the geysers and steam vents, but nobody really knows."
So it could just blow without warning?
He nodded thoughtfully. The trouble, he explained, is that nearly all the things that would constitute warning signs already exist in some measure at Yellowstone. "Earthquakes are generally a precursor of volcanic eruptions, but the park already has lots of earthquakes— 1,260 of them last year. Most of them are too small to be felt, but they are earthquakes nonetheless."
A change in the pattern of geyser eruptions might also be taken as a clue, he said, but these too vary unpredictably. Once the most famous geyser in the park was Excelsior Geyser. It used to erupt regularly and spectacularly to heights of three hundred feet, but in 1888 it just stopped. Then in 1985 it erupted again, though only to a height of eighty feet. Steamboat Geyser is the biggest geyser in the world when it blows, shooting water four hundred feet into the air, but the intervals between its eruptions have ranged from as little as four days to almost fifty years. "If it blew today and again next week, that wouldn't tell us anything at all about what it might do the following week or the week after or twenty years from now," Doss says. "The whole park is so volatile that it's essentially impossible to draw conclusions from almost anything that happens."