A volcano in eastern Hokkaido erupted early Tuesday, a local meteorological observatory said after confirming minor volcanic activity there.

The Sapporo observatory said minor volcanic activity has been detected since around 6:28 a.m. on 1,499-meter Mount Meakandake.

Observatory officials added that they were able to confirm white smoke billowing out about 400 meters above the peak and blowing in a southeasterly direction at around noon.

Tuesday’s eruption probably took place along the mountain’s southwest slope, some 500 meters from the peak, officials said, adding that a new crater might have formed.

The volcano has seen small-scale eruptions many times in the postwar period. The last time it erupted was in November 1998, when a small amount of volcanic ash fell in an area up to 15 km east of the mountain.

Officials said the volcanic activity had subsided by 10:30 a.m., and there was no major change in seismic activity.

While they said there was little likelihood of a major eruption, they urged caution in the vicinity of the peak, saying small-scale eruptions could continue.

On March 11, the observatory detected volcanic seismic activity 576 times, a record since it began to observe the volcano in 1972.

Such activity, however, declined to 122 on March 12 and to 48 on March 13, leading the observatory to say no emergency measures were necessary.

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