The Most Important Fridge On Earth

The vault consists of three chambers, each able to contain up to 1.5 million seed samples. The three chambers themselves are accessed through a 100m (328-ft) long tunnel with an entrance portal at the outside.  According to the designers, the tunnel will be able to withstand nuclear and missile attacks as well as earthquakes, which was successfully demonstrated last week during a 6.2-magnitude earthquake on the island.  Additional protection is provided by motion sensors and polar bears roaming the area.

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[Editor] Download Svalbard Global Seed Vault KML file for Google Earth. It appears that the imagery in Google Earth works a little better than Google Maps, not to say it is high resolution (it kind of sucks). But be sure to turn on the "Geographic Web" layer in GE, there are TONS of user-submitted photos of the area, and it is absolutely stunning!  [/Editor]

Construction began in summer of 2006 to build the vault which is completely funded by the government of Norway.  Its site was carefully selected within the permafrost approximately 130m (425-ft) above sea level within a sandstone/limestone mountainside. This elevation will ensure its safety against flooding even if all the icecaps in the Arctic and Antarctica melt due to climate change. The entire facility has been constructed underground by drilling and blasting techniques. [Editor] (Drawing by Global Crop Diversity Trust) [/Editor]

The average temperature within the vault will be maintained at -18 degrees Celsius (0 degrees Fahrenheit) which will keep the seeds fresh for the next 1000 years.  Even if the cooling system fails, the average temperature at the site is -4 C (25 F) which will keep the seeds frozen.  The facility’s operating cost will be shared between the government of Norway and the United Nations. More information can be found at 

1 Comment

  1. Remind you of X-Files?
    Thanks Wolfgang, nice post. Does this remind anyone else of the X-Files Movie? Especially that first picture! And the whole concept of “hey, if somewhere in the world gets razed to the ground by a nuke or some other catastrophe at least we can re-seed.” 😉

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