Encyclopedia of Petroleum Geoscience

Living Edition
| Editors: Rasoul Sorkhabi

Helium

  • D. Danabalan
  • J. G. GluyasEmail author
  • Chris J. Ballentine
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-02330-4_291-1

Definition

Helium (He) is a colorless, odorless, monatomic, chemically inert gas; it is the second most abundant element in the universe and yet scarce here on Earth. Petroleum basins provide an important habitat for helium.

Introduction

Helium was first observed in 1868 during a solar eclipse as a spectral line in the yellow part of the spectrum of the Sun. The element was formally discovered in 1895 and accordingly named for the Greek god of the Sun “Helios.” In 1903, significant concentrations of helium and nitrogen were measured in what should have been a petroleum discovery in Dexter, Kansas, USA (Cady and McFarland 1907). Following this, serendipitous discoveries of helium continued to be made in the Mid-West USA as companies searched for petroleum. As a consequence, the USA dominated the helium market until recently. Today there are three other major helium-producing regions, all of which have come online since 2000: Algeria, Qatar, and Russia.

There are two naturally occurring...

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Bibliography

  1. American Physical Society, Materials Research Society, American Chemical Society (2016) Responding to the U.S. Research Community’s Liquid Helium Crisis: an action plan to preserve U.S. Innovation. https://www.aps.org/policy/reports/popa-reports/upload/HeliumReport.pdf. Accessed 8 Jul 2017
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  4. Cady HP, McFarland DF (1907) The occurrence of helium in natural gas and the composition of natural gas. J Am Chem Soc 29(11):1523–1536CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Danabalan D (2017) Helium: exploration methodology for a strategic resource. PhD thesis, Durham UniversityGoogle Scholar
  6. Danabalan D, Gluyas JG, Macpherson CG, Abraham-James TH, Bluett JJ, Barry PH, Ballentine CJ (2016) New high-grade helium discoveries in Tanzania. In: Goldschmidt Conference Abstracts, Yokohama, Japan, 26 June–1 July 2016Google Scholar
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  8. Nature Editorial (2017) Helium should be recycled. Nature 547(7661):6CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. Danabalan
    • 1
  • J. G. Gluyas
    • 1
    Email author
  • Chris J. Ballentine
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Earth SciencesDurham UniversityDurhamUK
  2. 2.Department of Earth SciencesUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK