Scientists from Durham University have hailed a helium discovery which could solve a shortage of the gas threatening life-saving work in medicine.
Reserves have been running out and doctors a year ago were calling for a ban on its usage in party balloons, branding it frivolous.
Helium does not just make voices go squeaky - its extremely low boiling point means it is used for super-cooling and is critical in MRI scanners, nuclear power and leak detection.
Until now helium has been found accidentally during drilling for oil and gas.
But a team from Oxford and Durham Universities, working with the Norwegian firm Helium One, has made a major discovery in Tanzania.
They applied the expertise used in oil and gas exploration to find how helium was generated underground and where it accumulated.
Their research showed that volcanic activity provides the intense heat necessary to release the gas from ancient, helium-bearing rocks.