• The Pinta Dome, Navajo Springs, and East Navajo Springs fields are relatively small anticlinal structures located in the Holbrook Basin in Townships 19 and 20 North, Ranges 26, 27, and 28 East. Wells in the Pinta Dome and Navajo Springs fields produced helium from the Permian Coconino Sandstone. Several wells in the East Navajo Springs field produced helium from the Shinarump Conglomerate at the base of Triassic Chinle Formation.


  • Masters (1960) and Dean (1960) published the history of the exploration and development of the helium resources in the Navajo-Chambers area. The Navajo-Chambers represented the only area in the history of the helium industry that had experienced sustained exploration and
    development for helium gas alone.


  • In 1951, Kipling Petroleum Company discovered Helium on Pinta Dome in 1950 when it drilled the # 1 Macie in search of oil. No oil was found but a large flow of gas was encountered in the Coconino Sandstone. The gas did not burn so it was allowed to flow unrestricted from the well bore for about 8 weeks (Dean et al, 1960). Reports indicated that the gas escaping from the open well “roared like a jet engine” at an estimated initial rate of 24 million cubic feet per day (Heindl, 1952). The operator shut the well in after testing by the U.S. Bureau of Mines showed that the gas was rich in Helium (Masters, 1960).


  • In 1951, Kipling Petroleum Company drilled the #2 Macie, which was abandoned because of stuck pipe. In 1955, the Apache Oil and Helium Corporation took over development of the field, and reworked the # 2 Macie, which blew out and drilled the #3 Macie, which it was abandoned before target depth (Coconino SS).


  • In 1956, Kerr-McGee Oil Industries completed both the #2 & #3 Macie wells, and drilled 3 more gas wells. In 1959, Eastern Petroleum Corporation drilled three more gas wells and extended the area of helium production to the southeast.


  • Kerr-McGee constructed a helium-extraction plant at Navajo and started processing helium from the Pinta Dome field in 1961, Navajo Springs field in 1964, and East Navajo Springs field in 1969. Kerr-McGee’s helium plant was the first privately financed helium plant in the world producing Grade-A helium (Smith et al, 1962).Nearly 9 billion cubic feet of gas containing more than 700 million cubic feet of Grade-A helium were produced from the Pinta Dome and the adjacent Navajo Springs and East Navajo Springs fields. Gas produced from the Coconino Sandstone averaged 90% Nitrogen, 8-10% Helium, and 1% carbon dioxide.