Helium has been considered a dwindling resource, and one of the big uses for the gas is in medical imaging - especially in MRI machines - which partly explains why imaging costs so darned much. The Federal Helium Reserve in Texas, which contains nearly a third of global reserves at roughly 24 billion cubic feet, has suddenly been dwarfed by a huge discovery:
What scientists are calling a "game changer" for society has been discovered deep in Tanzania's Rift Valley: a massive helium gas field with enough of the precious commodity to fill more than 1.2 million MRI scanners, Phys.org reports. Researchers figure there's about 54 billion cubic feet of helium in just one section of the valley.
Interestingly, the researchers from Durham University and Oxford University didn't just stumble across it (as is usually the case; discoveries of trapped helium have been accidental, associated with oil and natural gas drilling operations). These folks have developed a new approach designed specifically to locate helium stores. No wonder it's being called a "game-changer".