Southern Chile's Copahue Volcano has begun spewing plumes of ash skyward, prompting authorities there and in neighbouring Argentina to issue a low-level alert.

The 2,965-metre-high Copahue volcano, which straddles in Argentina's Neuquen province and Chile's Biobio region, began belching ash and gas early on Saturday, but officials said on Sunday it's still in an early eruption stage.

Hernan de Solminihac, Chile's mining minister, said the volcano's smoke plume led Argentine emergency officials to issue a yellow alert and constantly monitor its activity in case of a full eruption.

Authorities alerted residents in a small nearby community, Biobio, and were monitoring the activity closely.

Mayor Victor Lobos told the AFP news agency that locals were concerned but no lava or rocks have been expelled from the crater. "We need to stay calm," Lobos added.

Officials said there was no need yet to evacuate people near the volcano, which is part of the Andes mountain chain.

Flights expected to pass by the area around the volcano have been warned.

A volcano in southern Chile erupted last year, forcing the cancellation of hundreds of flights and the evacuation of more than 600 people.

Source: Agencies