Lava rock containing nickel also occurs in Mexico, Siberia and the Cascades of the U.S. Pacific Northwest.
"It's clearly not a local phenomenon," said Columbia University geochemist Susanne Straub in a press release.
NEWS: The Secret of Screaming Volcanoes Explained
Prior to even fast moving eruptions like Irazú, the Earth gives signs that calamity draws near. The cone at the top of the volcano bulges, gases escape through rock fissures and the temperature of the volcano rises. Earthquakes and other seismic activity also warn of an impending eruption.
Seismologists monitor these quakes and use them to give warnings that officials use to justify evacuating humans from volcanic danger zones. The new study in Nature helps scientists to set a speed limit for how fast magma can potentially rise.
"The study provides one more piece of evidence that it's possible to get magma from the mantle to the surface in very short order," said John Pallister, who heads the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Volcano Disaster Assistance Program in a press release. "It tells us there's a potentially shorter time span we need to worry about."