Shinmoedake erupts: lava, ash and lightning over Japan

Lightning dances in Shinmoedake's volcanic plume, the eruption having already led Japanese authorities to call on those living nearby to evacuate. Seen from Kirishima city, the light shows last only for a few moments, but the ash and rocks fall relentlessly between the prefectures of Miyazaki and Kagoshima. One of Kirishima's many calderas, Shinmoedake is 4,662 feet tall. Photo: Minami-Nippon Shimbun

Shinmoedake's dome of lava rose after 52 years of dormancy, sending smoke plumes more than 6,500 feet into the sky and disrupting air traffic. More than 1,000 people living in southern Japan have been urged to evacuate, according to local officials, but no injuries have been reported. Photo: Reuters/Kyodo

An aerial view shows Shinmoedake peak erupting between Miyazaki and Kagoshima prefectures last week. The evacuation zone extends 1.2 miles from the volcano; farmers nearby report that their crops have been coated in ash. Photo: Reuters/Kyodo

Shinmoedake peak erupts, as seen from Takaharu Town Office. The evacuation advisory there was issued at 11:50 p.m. Sunday, according to the Associated Press, which added that the lava dome continued to swell. According to Reuters, Shinmoedake has not been this active in nearly 300 years. Photo: Takaharu Town Office

People sweep volcanic ashes in Miyakonojo, in Miyazaki prefecture, on January 28, 2011. Since then, hundreds have left the area, according to Reuters. Japan's Meteorological Agency said that the volcano began releasing smoke last Wednesday, and that the lava dome was five times larger today than it was Friday. Photo: Reuters/Kyodo

Access to the mountain itself has been restricted, according to AFP. Train services have also been suspended until the tracks are cleared. Photo: Reuters/Kyodo

Crops are covered with volcanic ashes from erupting Shinmoedake peak. Photo: Reuters/Kyodo