Updated at 3:30 p.m. ET.
A volcano in Japan erupted violently Friday morning, sending a dark ash cloud an estimated 30,000 feet (9,100 meters) into the sky. No deaths and only one minor injury have so far been reported by the country’s government.
The volcano, Mount Shindake, rises above the small island of Kuchinoerabujima, which lies about 50 miles (80 kilometers) off the larger Japanese island Kyushu and about 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) south of Tokyo. The small island’s 140 residents have been evacuated by Japan’s coast guard.
Shindake last erupted in August 2014. Before that it had erupted in 1980.
At least one flight has been diverted as a result of the ash cloud, but there hasn't been widespread disruption to travel because of the volcano's remoteness, says Charlie Mandeville, the coordinator of the Volcano Hazards Program with the U.S. Geological Survey.
"If it had been closer to Tokyo or another city it would have been a different story," says Mandeville.
Shindake is a classic stratovolcano, or cone-shaped volcano, formed from alternating layers of lava flows and fragmented deposits.
The eruption wasn't entirely unexpected, since Japanese scientists had detected increased seismic activity and plumes of steam rising from the crater on May 18.
“There was a really loud, ‘dong’ sound of an explosion, and then black smoke rose, darkening the sky,” Nobuaki Hayashi, a local village chief, told the national broadcaster NHK.
Japan is an archipelago of thousands of islands that were formed largely through the action of such volcanoes. The process is driven by the country’s location along the Ring of Fire, a fringe of tectonically active coastline that surrounds much of the Pacific Ocean.
The same processes have been creating new islands, through fiery explosions, further off Japan’s main islands in the past few years.
"We could be in for more activity from this volcano, it certainly has magma in its core," says Mandeville.