The Doomsday Seed Vault Near the North Pole With Over 850,000 Seed Varieties

On 26 February 2008 the Svalbard Global Seed Vault officially opened. The seed bank is situated 120 meters (390 ft) inside a sandstone mountain on Norway’s Spitsbergen Island, about 1,300 km (810 mi) from the North Pole.


To date, there are an astonishing 864,309 seed varieties in the vault (approx. 1.5 million distinct seed samples of agricultural crops are thought to exist globally).

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Spitsbergen was considered an ideal location because it lacks tectonic activity and has permafrost, which aids preservation. It is also 130 metres (430 ft) above sea level which means the site would remain dry even if the ice caps melted. The total area is 1000 square meters, but only the concrete entrance lobby is visible outside.

The vault is situated in permafrost at a constant 3-4 degrees Celsius below zero.

New seeds are carried into the vault, packed in crates each containing a maximum of 400 seed types. The crates are sealed by the gene bank which deposits the seeds. Each crate holds up to 400 seed samples, and a seed sample typically consists of around 500 seeds sealed in an airtight aluminium bag.

Svalbard Global Seed Vault has the capacity to store 4.5 million different seed types, and so it can hold duplicates of all the unique seed types currently existing in the many gene banks around the world, and will also be able to accommodate new seed types collected in the future.

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