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Massive deposits of helium found in Tanzania

Researchers have revealed that Tanzania is lying on a huge deposit of valuable gas – helium.

The discovery, according the LIVESCIENCE, occurred after researchers applied new methods of searching for the rare element.

The researches from United Kingdom and Norway focused on identifying pockets of helium gas as a result of volcanic activity. The Rift Valley was thus a prime venue for the new tests for the researchers.

“By one estimate, the newly discovered helium field in the geothermally active East African Rift Valley may contain more helium than the U.S. Federal Helium Reserve near Amarillo, Texas, which holds about 30 percent of the world’s helium supply,” reported LIVESCIENCE.

The scientists believe what they have discovered is only a small part of what the entire Rift Valley area may contain.

Scientific research associated with the discovery was presented on Tuesday at the Goldschmidt Conference in Yokohama, Japan. Previously, helium had mainly been discovered by accident, therefore this new development has created excitement.

Minister Elioda Tumwesigye shows journalists a brachytherapy machine at the radiology unit. unlike the Cobalt machine, this provides internal radiation.
Minister Elioda Tumwesigye shows journalists a brachytherapy machine at the radiology
unit. Mulago is planning to install machines, many of which will use helium

There has been a growing global shortage of helium which is vital in many high-tech applications. It particularly crucial for the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanners used in many hospitals.

“We sampled helium gas (and nitrogen) just bubbling out of the ground in the Tanzanian East African Rift valley,” Chris Ballentine, a Oxford University geochemist, said in a statement.

“By combining our understanding of helium geochemistry with seismic images of gas-trapping structures, independent experts have calculated a probable resource of 1.5 billion cubic meters in just one part of the rift valley.”

rift valley 2

Key uses of helium

  • Used in children’s party balloons.
  • Used in MRIs. They require superconducting magnets, which in turn need liquid helium to reach sufficiently cold temperatures to be superconducting.
  • Used by the semiconductor industry to grow crystals and to cool components
  • Used to detect leaks in test containers.
  • Used for scientific research
  • Used in spaceships
  • Used in telescopes


Goldschmidt Science Conference HELIUM Discovery by The Independent Magazine

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