Scientists have discovered a large helium gas field in Tanzania.
With world supplies running out, the find is a “game-changer”, say geologists at Durham and Oxford universities.
Helium is used in hospitals in MRI scanners as well as in spacecraft, telescopes and radiation monitors.
Until now, the precious gas has been discovered only in small quantities during oil and gas drilling.
Using a new exploration approach, researchers found large quantities of helium within the Tanzanian East African Rift Valley.
They say resources in just one part of the Rift valley are enough to fill more than a million medical MRI scanners.
Prof Chris Ballentine, of the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Oxford, said: “This is a game-changer for the future security of society’s helium needs and similar finds in the future may not be far away.”