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Huge helium discovery 'a life-saving find'

News broke recently of the discovery of a huge pocket of helium in the Tanzanian East African Rift Valley, calming fears of a shortage of the useful element. Already, a Canadian city has banned filling balloons with the non-renewable resource. Helium has a variety of industrial uses, from semiconductors to medical equipment to propulsion and lasers.

Now scientists from Oxford and Durham Universities, working with Norwegian company Helium One, have announced that they located shallow pockets filled with the valuable gas under rocks in a volcanically active valley. The pocket could be as large as 54 Billion Cubic Feet (BCf), compared to total known reserves in the USA of 153 BCf. The findings are being presented this week at the Goldschmidt geochemistry conference in Yokohama, Japan.

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