The tallest volcano on Indonesia's Java island erupted on Friday, spewing smoke and ash high into the sky and coating a nearby town in black dust, an official said.

The 3,676-metre Mount Semeru burst into life shortly after midnight but officials said it posed no danger to people living in the area, 35 kilometres southeast of Lumajang.

'We recorded that it erupted after midnight on Friday but luckily we have had rains so the ash isn't causing serious respiration problems for the residents,' volcanologist Agus Budianto told AFP.

Winds had also helped to carry the harmful debris away from the most populated areas nearby, he said.

Mr Budianto said there had been no evacuation order but authorities were monitoring the eruption closely for signs of lethal heat clouds.

The Indonesian archipelago sits on the seismically active Pacific 'Ring of Fire' where continental plates collide, and is home to about 130 active volcanoes.

Source: Agence France-Presse