The Svalbard Doomsday Vault in Norway

Doomsday Granary

Doomsday Depository is the figurative name for the World Seed Vault located on Spitsbergen. The Norwegians, the initiators of the project, have set themselves the ambitious task of providing a strategic reserve of plant seeds from all over the world in the event of a global catastrophe. It is unimportant whether humans or external forces will cause the collapse of the Earth’s green shell: the powerful structure will withstand any cataclysm. It is no coincidence that the dry official name was quickly replaced by a bright metaphor of “doomsday”, because the contents of the vault will be in demand when the bulk of humanity ceases to exist.

Save yourself a trip!

Video: Doomsday Vault

History of the Vault

In the 20th century, mankind did everything they could to ensure that their descendants would have something to do in the next 200 years. The emergence of nuclear weapons, large-scale man-made disasters, global climate change associated with melting ice at the poles – together or separately, these reasons can cause irreversible consequences for the earth’s vegetation. Scientists have decided that the inhabitants of our planet must be able to recover lost species quickly in order to provide habitual air composition and nutrition for the entire population.

Entering the vault

In the second half of the twentieth century, seed-safe buildings were built in every developed country in the world. The Svalbard project was a fundamentally new step in the development of an elaborate idea. According to the authors, who calculated all variants of the development of human history, the storehouse should be something like a bank room with safety deposit boxes, where each state will put duplicates of seeds from its national funds. If disaster strikes in the plant’s homeland, there would always be hope for the northern stockpiles. The idea was highly appreciated by international financial funds and invested almost 10 million dollars together with the Norwegian government. Construction began in 2006, and in 2008, the store received the first batch of seeds.

Why Svalbard?

There were two reasons for choosing the island – geographical, more significant, and political. Climatic disadvantages of the archipelago turned into advantages when forecasting the success of the project. In conditions of permafrost, because of which Spitsbergen does not even have its own cemetery, it is easier to ensure the safety of reserves in case of a breakdown of all equipment and less energy costs for maintenance of equipment. The facility is built at an altitude of 130 m above sea level. This ensures that a potential worldwide deluge triggered by melting Arctic and Antarctic ice will bypass it. The region lies outside the seismic danger zone, so the reinforced concrete bunker is not threatened by earthquakes either. West coast of Spitsbergen is situated outside comfortable zones for people living, but it is not so far from populous centers of civilization as, for example, northern regions of Russia, and even in case of transport collapse it will not be difficult to reach it.

How long it takes to fly from Moscow to Maldives

Doomsday Vault Entrance Hall Tunnel Main hall Room where seeds are stored

Politically, Spitsbergen is ideal for international projects. Formally belonging to Norway, the island received a special status back in 1920. Since then, its subsoil may be exploited by about 50 states that have become parties to the treaty. Because of the difficult climate only the Norwegians and Russians are left who would like to mine there. However, it is possible to use the long-term experience of international cooperation for the new project.

Construction of the facility

The natural body of the depository is a rock, its impermeable entrance is reinforced with meter-thick reinforced concrete walls that can withstand even a direct hit by a nuclear warhead. To get inside, at a depth of 120 meters, the visitor has to go through a chamber-gateway. After passing through a concrete corridor, the visitor will find spacious halls, where he will experience a year-round temperature shock at -18 degrees Celsius. Such figures are helped by the refrigeration units, which are always on. In case of a simultaneous breakdown of all the machinery, the temperature will only rise slightly after a few weeks, so that the seeds will retain their ability to germinate until people get to them. Each country has its own section in the vault, and can only work in it with official permission from the authorities of the “depositing” state.Seeds, wrapped in foil, are placed in plastic bags and then packed into containers standing on racks. Motion sensors monitor any actions of those inside, ruling out sabotage.

Diagram of the Doomsday Vault

What is stored in the bunker today

Doomsday Vault

A) Entrance B) Sealed airlock system C) Container racks in the seed storage compartment D) Seed packet box E) Sealed seed packet

The Doomsday Vault, designed to hold 4.5 million tons of seed, is still a long way from being full. Project participants send in 500 seeds of each variety, with a preference for agricultural crops. Although only 150 types of plants arrive on the Earth’s table, 12 of which represent the most popular grains, but each of them includes thousands of varieties. The object will not become the absolute savior of the green cover of the Earth, but it will ensure the safety of the achievements of mankind, which by its research and constant selection multiplied the diversity of the plant world.

Jobs as a doctor, teacher in Thailand
Modern art

Norwegian law states that any public building financed by the government and exceeding a certain value must be valued as a work of art. Normally the artwork is within the building, but the World Seed Vault is a special, safe place that ordinary people cannot visit. KORO, an agency that oversees the proliferation of art in public spaces, invited Daivek Sanna to highlight the beauty and grandeur of Arctic light in the design of the vault. The artist made the art element visible by placing it on the roof and front of the Doomsday Vault entrance.

Roof of the Vault Facade of the Doomsday Warehouse

The façade and roof of the building are decorated with steel reflective triangles of various sizes. They are complemented by prisms and illuminated mirrors. The futuristic composition reflects the polar lights in the summer months, and in winter a network of 200 fiber-optic cables colors the seed vault in a muted greenish turquoise and white. The color shimmers and the play of light, which is only enhanced by the snow lying around, make the building interesting to view near and far, at different times of the day and of the year. The object symbolizes the diversity of life, which is hidden in the vault and is reflected to the world through a large prism.

Dyveke Sanne is the designer and artist who had a hand in creating the project

“The interior of the seed vault is protected from prying eyes. Even so, its contents reflect a certain significance and complexity that affects us. The very fact that the World Seed Vault exists reminds us of our own position in the world, our relationship to the state and the Earth. The seeds are ripe for the future. They are copies of bio-diversity that need regular cyclical care, not a firm belief in a new linear progression. The mirrored surfaces do not reveal any objects that may lie behind them–they only copy what they receive and throw it back. Standing close enough, you can see yourself in the reflection; stand farther away and you become part of the landscape, or you just have your eyes scattered by the reflected light. Even so, the reflections form oppositions and displacements that change depending on the observer’s location.”

Daivek Sunn

Tourist Information

The Doomsday Vault belongs to the number of attractions that are more pleasant to read about while sitting in front of a computer than to observe them with your own eyes. The difficult climate with above zero temperatures only in July and August, an abundance of short-term precipitation, sharp gusts of wind, frequent fog – a good reason not to walk around the island in favor of a virtual trip. There is another reason: access to the strategic reserves is open only to scientists who have received special permission from their government. The press was, of course, invited to the opening, but since then the contents of the facility have been of interest mainly to geneticists and breeders. No one is forbidden to look at the entrance to the vault from the outside, but the sight will not be very educational: a small bridge will lead visitors from the compact parking lot to the massive doors at the base of a narrow gray rectangle going straight into the rock. The mundanity of the landscape is brightened during Polar Night, when ice crystals sparkle at the top of the entrance.

How much alcohol costs in Thailand

Svalbard Global Seed Vault Seed containers Seed packets

How to get to the site

Formally, the Doomsday Vault is located on the territory of the town of Longyear. This modest village with rows of brightly colored houses and only 2,000 inhabitants is the official capital of the archipelago. In fact, the site is built about a kilometer south of the local airport runway, and the nearest housing from here is another 3 kilometers to the east. Domestic tourists can go to Spitsbergen without a visa, if somehow get on a flight carrying commuters from Russia. Other travelers prefer to come here by plane from the largest cities in Norway – Oslo and Tromsø. In recent decades, popular are summer cruises along the coasts of the northern part of the country. Another way to enjoy the full benefits of the archipelago is to attend the Svalbard International University, located right in Longyear. Here they train specialists in biology, geology, Arctic geophysics and engineers working in the High North. The program of studies is distinguished by the abundance of hours of field practice in extreme conditions, requiring from the students outstanding health.

Warehouse and its surroundings Beware of polar bears!

Svalbard travel precautions

The lack of people on the island is more than compensated for by the abundance of polar bears, which are not afraid to enter the camps and tourist camps. The natives go out for walks with guns, the first classes of university students begin with the shooting training. If a bear is spotted in sight, the man must as quickly as possible to leave the danger zone, sometimes helicopters are sent to help potential victims. In the case of an immediate threat to life, it is allowed to kill predators, but then the governor of Spitsbergen will personally investigate the incident, determining whether the limits of necessary self-defense are not exceeded. Those who are not intimidated by the frost, the animals, or the paucity of architectural impressions from a visit to the Doomsday Storehouse will have an unforgettable experience of the rugged northern landscape. Cliffs descending to the water, snow caps on the opposite shore of Adventfjord, giving way only to rare grasses in summer, the calm sea and cheerful houses of all colors of the rainbow – such will remain in the memory of travelers who climbed the mountain to the entrance of the repository, Svalbard.

Benin, 74 photos on the trail of voodoo

What is the Doomsday Vault

Doomsday Depository was named by the Norwegians on Spitsbergen Island, the main purpose of the project was to create a reserve of grain from all over the world.

The construction on Spitsbergen has a special design, which is able to withstand any external force. That is why the granary got such an unofficial name after its creation.

History of the Vault

The XX century was marked by the appearance of everything that can soon kill a man. These are nuclear weapons, man-made disasters and climate change. Together or separately, these factors one fine day can create a situation in which vegetation, and people can not exist. So scientists decided to create a place to store seeds of plants from around the world, which can be used in case of disaster, recreating the whole plant world.

In the second half of the twentieth century, such repositories were established all over the world. But the Spitsbergen project was the highest step in the preservation of plant stocks. According to the idea, the repository should resemble a bank with numerous cells, in which each state can “hide” the seeds of plants peculiar to its climate. If suddenly a collapse occurs, the authorities will be able to use the fund on the island. The project was supported by the Norwegian government. In 2006, construction began, and in 2008 the first exhibits of the collection appeared.

Seed racks.

Why Svalbard was chosen for the construction

Firstly, the island’s climate was ideally suited for the construction of the building. This is because in the permafrost zone, if the equipment suddenly becomes unusable, you can very quickly restore the stocks. This factor also has a positive effect on energy costs. Secondly, the storage area is 130 meters above sea level. If suddenly an abnormal melting of glaciers happens, the building will not suffer. Also, the island is far from seismic activity zone, so earthquakes are not afraid of it too. And finally, a short distance to civilization. It is very easy to get to the granary.

Bulgarian airports, full list by alphabetical order

There is also the political side of the coin. Spitsbergen Island in 1920 received a special status. Formally it belongs to Norway, but to develop its lands may more than fifty states that have signed a special treaty. It is still in force, but the extraction of coal is engaged only Norway and Russia.

Corridor from the main entrance

World Seed Vault

The main part of the structure is a rock with a reinforced concrete body. To get inside, you need to go down 120 meters. There you go through a special lock and get into the chambers. This is a real refrigerator with a temperature of -18 degrees. This is achieved by the most powerful refrigeration units. If there is a breakdown, the cold will come from outside, preserving all the qualities of seeds.

Each state has its own room with cells, which can be accessed only by official permission of the authorities. Before the seeds are placed in the cells, they are wrapped in foil and placed in containers.

To prevent trespassing, motion detectors are hung throughout the premises.

Sample delivery to the storage vault

Plant stock in the vault

As of today, the vault is not fully stocked. States send 500 types of seeds at a time, of which agricultural seeds take priority. Despite the fact that only 120 species are used for food, the plan is to collect the most complete fund of plants, which can then be used to create new forms of plants.


What it looks like

By Norwegian law, the granary is recognized as a national landmark. It is a special place, access to which is closed to ordinary visitors. Artist Daiveka Sanna was invited to create a unique design. The facade of the structure is decorated with reflective triangular elements.

At night and in winter the seeds and the granary itself are illuminated in a pleasant turquoise color. This design makes the building unique and attracts tourists.

Vault layout

How to get inside

Looking at the storehouse from the screen of the monitor is much more pleasant than watching in person. It is connected with a difficult climate, fogs and constant wind. And no one will allow you to get inside.

Only state authorities and scientists, who monitor the state of the seeds, have access there.

( No ratings yet )
Like this post? Please share to your friends:
Free Travels And Tours
Leave a Reply

;-) :| :x :twisted: :smile: :shock: :sad: :roll: :razz: :oops: :o :mrgreen: :lol: :idea: :grin: :evil: :cry: :cool: :arrow: :???: :?: :!: