Eruptions from an underwater volcano have created a new island off the coast of Japan. The islet lies in the Ogasawara island chain more than 1,000 kilometers south of Tokyo in the Pacific Ocean. The islet emerged near the crater of the Home Reef seamount, which began spewing lava and ash earlier this month, according to NASA’s Earth Observatory. It grew from a small island within 11 hours of the eruption and measured roughly 50 feet in height as of September 19.
The new island is still erupting and emitting steam, though it is unlikely to grow much more significant. “The shape is changing day-to-day as it slowly evolves,” says Rennie Vaiomounga, a geologist with Tonga’s Geological Services. It is not yet sturdy enough to walk on, and it has a layer of ash, steam, and pumice that drifts in the water around it, reports NASA.
It’s not likely that the islet will stay a permanent landmass, either. Typically, the islands created by volcanic eruptions are short-lived because of erosion from waves and currents. One such island was created by an eruption at Late’iki in 1995, lasting 25 years, but other islands have dissipated after less time.
While the new island is not a tropical paradise, it does provide some excitement for locals. It has a few buildings, including a church and a school. It also has some trees, a freshwater spring, and a lighthouse that is currently inoperable. There’s even a soccer field, but the goalposts have been taken down.
There are some concerns that the islet could pose a danger to mariners. Mariners have been told to keep a safe distance of more than four kilometers. “The island is a source of concern to all ships passing through the area,” Tonga’s Civil Aviation Authority said in a statement.
As for the newspaper, its editorial staff will have to work hard to find a business model that is sustainable in this era of digital journalism. The Asahi Shimbun previously had bureaus in each of Japan’s 47 prefectures that produced local editions, but management closed these and consolidated coverage into 18 regional blocks last year to save money. The loss of local news and the resulting layoffs have pressured the company to find a new way forward.
It will be challenging, but quality reporting can go hand-in-hand with a profitable business model. It is just a question of finding the right formula. The Asahi Shimbun is not the first paper to struggle, and it won’t be the last. But it does offer a reminder that there are still places where quality journalism can be found—and that there is a market for it out there. The trick is to create a product that can compete with the many choices available to consumers. It is a challenge that both newspapers and readers must face together. This article originally appeared in the September 29, 2022 issue of the New York Times.