Valuable lesson to be learned from fool's gold
Pyrite, a common mineral which resembles gold, is being recreated synthetically to allow it to be studied.
Researchers say it can provide a "snapshot of events" of the time Earth was formed. Studying the composition of the different forms of iron contained in pyrite offers clues about how conditions such as atmospheric oxygen influenced the compound-forming process.
Dr Ian Butler, who led the research, said: "Technology allows us to trace scientific processes, that we can't see from examining the mineral composition alone, to understand how compounds were formed.
"New information about pyrite gives us a much sharper tool with which to analyse the early evolution of the Earth, telling us more about how our planet was formed."
The research was published in the journal Science.