So for the last few days, all sorts of websites are getting all excited about the latest Yellowstone earthquake swarm that happening at and under the north end of Yellowstone Lake. What's missing from all the accounts, though, is any historic perspective. All seem to concentrate on the sensationalistic aspects, about how it is taking place within the caldera, and should the caldera erupt, that could have dire consequences. Oh, and the odds of a caldera eruption are miniscule, so let's not talk about the norm.
As of right now, there hasn't been a quake that's part of this swarm in over 24 hours. Is it over? Will they get bigger should it restart? I have no idea. But I can examine the past record and use the scientific method and reasoning to make some guesses. (Which is more than I can say about most of the reports I've seen.)
In my experience, the norm for these events is that the swarms happen every few months to years. They last for a few days to weeks, and often stop as suddenly as they start. Their location varies, and don't seem to have any relationship to surface features or thermal areas. I'm not interested enough to do the actual research, but I do remember that in the past these swarms have taken near such varied places as Grant Village, west of Norris, Shoshone, in the Bechler and even near West Yellowstone.
Similarly, I know that in the past changes in thermal features have been ascribed to nearby swarms, but offhand I can't remember any of significance. There are so many changes in the geyser basins that it can be easy to assume that a particular change has a particular cause only because they happened at about the same time. Kevin Leany mentioned that a few years ago Depression Geyser dropped its interval down to around 2 hours, but considering where that interval is today, that change didn't last. This particular swarm is probably too far from all the major thermal areas to have much of an effect.
What bothers me the most about these postings I've come across is the number where the writers assume that enthusiasm is all that's needed to have an opinion. None has any expertise in this subject, or even opinions based on past experience like those I've presented in the above paragraphs. Yet, for some reason, these people believe that their opinions matter, and somehow have gotten an instant reputation as experts on a subject about which they know absolutely nothing. It's just a fad, and within a few weeks of the end of this swarm, it'll all be forgotten. Until the next one happens and then we'll see a repeat performance.