Pyrite is the most abundant sulfide mineral in the Earth’s crust. Additionally, the mineral contains trace elements that, when studied together, can help reveal the evolutionary history of the ocean. Currently, little is known about where and when trace elements are incorporated into pyrite. A recent study using atom probe tomography (APT), however, successfully characterized trace element distributions in framboids, or spherical clusters of microcrystals of pyrite, with improved resolution as compared with previous methods. This knowledge will help scientists use pyrite trace metal concentrations to analyze and quantify early ocean chemistry and, as a result, the ocean’s evolution through time.

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Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory