Svalbard Global Seed Vault 10 Years

13,000 Years of Agricultural History 

Svalbard Global Seed Vault 10 Years

After 10 years of it's opening, the Global Seed Vault will get a huge upgrade. 

It must be world biggest known kind of time capsule of this timeline. Located on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen near Longyearbyen in the remote Arctic Svalbard archipelago. The North Pole is about 1,300 kilometers further from this large building surrounded by cold weather. Seeds are stored in the vault and in 2017 it contained more than 930,000 samples of seeds, presenting 13,000 years of agricultural history. It was opened on 26 February 2008.

"The Svalbard Global Seed Vault's mission is to provide a safety net against accidental loss of diversity in traditional genebanks. While the popular press has emphasized its possible utility in the event of a major regional or global catastrophe, it will be more frequently accessed when genebanks lose samples due to mismanagement, accident, equipment failures, funding cuts, and natural disasters. These events occur with some regularity. War and civil
strife have a history of destroying some gene banks. The national seed bank of the Philippines was damaged by flooding and later destroyed by a fire; the seed banks of Afghanistan and Iraq have been lost completely. According to The Economist, "the Svalbard vault is a backup for the world's 1,750 seed banks, storehouses of agricultural biodiversity."  Norwegian law has prohibited the storing of genetically modified seeds at the vault." -


Doomsday Vault

Projects like this can also raise questions, often asked by people who are into deeper thinking. Maybe as deep as the vault itself. Which is constructed in such way that it can withstand many situations. It is built 120 meters deep inside a mountain on Spitsbergen Island. The ideal place because there's no tectonic activity. The surrounding permafrost acts as a security for the preservation of the seeds. And if the ice caps melt, the vault will hopefully stay dry at 130 meters above sea level.

Photo: Mitsuaki Tanabe.

In 2016 annual spring permafrost, warmer weather and rainfall caused some water intrusion. It did not damaged the seeds. The vault is designed in such way that the water froze after several meters.

"in 2015, some 116,000 seed samples in the SGSV were transferred to a seed bank in Aleppo that had been damaged by the recent Syrian Civil War. Two years later, the seeds were grown and new samples were sent back for storage at the SGSV." -

Source: - 2.24.2018

So it proofed to be save for water intrusion and also useful as a project. The seed bank has stored many seeds that were threatened by wars and natural disasters. And with a storage capacity of 4.5 million seed samples, this snow bunker is ready for the future?

In a world that sometimes feels like a sci-fi movie, the Global Seed Vault soon got nicknamed: Doomsday Vault. Which is not necessary a strange thing.

Is the seed vault really a facility ready for the most severe situations?

There may be some events that are too much for the Global Seed Vault to withstand.

Strange Things Can Happen

And this can cause the seed bunker too be out of function or even destroyed. Here are some examples:

Meteor or Space Station Impact

A meteor or other object from space hitting the vault.
Of course chances are very small this will occur. What are the odds that a meteor, satellite or space station will directly hit the seed vault?
But it is possible. And when such object strikes the area around the island of Spitsbergen it would possibly cause some damage to the facility, depending on the size of the object and the location of the impact.


A huge Tsunami wave could destroy the vault. Caused by the impact of the meteor or space station.

Zombie Apocalypse

Yes, this may sound very strange. And perhaps too far fetched for some. For others who have followed the news streams of this timeline: it's a situation that has the possibility to happen. What if a zombie apocalypse happens. The world is in a state of decay and the seed bank can't be reached or accessed. Because zombies have blocked the entry.
Will the flamethrower of Elon Musk's The Boring Company be enough to keep the zombies away?


Talking about boring.

Burglary and Heist

This scenario is for the Ocean's 11 and Mission Impossible fans.

And perhaps James Bond comes to the rescue when a villain plans to enter the seed vault from the underground. With a tunnel boring machine. Digging through the rocks of the mountain on the island of Spitsbergen.
Trying to steal the seeds. After the villain has destroyed all the seeds in the world and replaced them with toxic GMO seeds. This a somewhat a wild scenario.

There are of course many ways to do a heist on a facility such as the Global Seed vault, according to some movies. Stories of people planning difficult robberies. And GMO seed companies will probably not use a villain or bunch of robbers.

Terror Attack

It's not sure how long it will take for the terrorists to discover the seed bank. Perhaps it will be a difficult attack for them since they're mostly focused on hitting people with vehicles on sidewalks recently.

But on the other hand, it is perhaps not very interesting for terrorists to hit the seed vault. It's not a symbol of any religion and it does not have oil pipelines... Never the less. Important buildings are always an object of interest for any person or group with bad intentions.


Aliens & Dimensional Invasion

Another stranger thing. this possible? Did people believe in man-on-the-moon in the 1800's? Mankind is still exploring and discovering new things everyday. And knowledge that was accepted as true can
be changed or even turn 180 with new discoveries. Would malevolent aliens attack the Global Seed Vault? Or would they choose for a more tactical approach and contaminate the world food supply with DNA altering GMO products?

Blackout, E.M.P. & Power Outage

A blackout can occur everywhere. For the seed vault it may be more easy to survive during a global blackout;

the refrigeration units are powered by locally mined coal. It becomes a serious situation when the internal power of the vault is not working. An EMP - ElectroMagnetic Pulse attack can be damaging for electronic devices, including those located at the seed vault.


Tiangong-1 Space Station Expected to Crash Back to Earth this March

"China’s first space station, Tiangong-1, will crash back to Earth sometime this spring.
Uncertainty surrounds the precise timing and location of atmospheric reentry,
but it is not expected to present a significant danger to person or property." - Source:

Sunflowers have nice seeds.

The latest of Mitsuaki Tanabe’s monuments to wild rice was unveiled in the FAO building in Rome yesterday.



Like many other facilities, the seed bank has it's own art work. CERN has a large statue of the Hindu deity Shiva, doing a cosmic dance of particles. The Global Seed Vault has a very large metal art work that looks like a giant seed or spermatozoon.

It was made by the Japanes artist Mitsuaki Tanabe and it's installed in the office of the Global Crop Diversity Trust.
This is not the location of the seed bank itself but the building of the trust.


"The Crop Trust, officially known as the Global Crop Diversity Trust, plays a key role in the planning of the seed vault and coordinating shipments of seed samples to the Vault in conjunction with the Nordic Genetic Resource Center." -


Photo: Mitsuaki Tanabe.

The pictures of the Global Seed Vault makes our local supermarket look like a state of the art facility.


The seed bank is an important project. And the facility must be top notch, right? It does contain almost all the seeds in the world. Important for the survival of humanity.

When we looked at some pictures, we were a bit disappointed. It does not have that high-tech futuristic-important-vault-look. It doesn't necessarily has to look like a Mission Impossible vault. But it doesn't have to look like an unfinished subway tunnel either.

The pictures of the Global Seed Vault makes our local supermarket look like a state of the art facility.

The costs to build this vault was only US$9 million. This is a lot of money. But when we compare these costs with other facilities and projects, it shows an interesting contrast.

  • Facebook Data Center in Lulea, Sweden. Costs around $300 million.

"Facilities on the scale of Luleå, which can cost as much as $300 million to build, will continue to be outliers, but companies of all sizes can take advantage of the cheaper, more power-efficient equipment." -  Source:

And talking about villains and James Bond...

  • The production budget of the movie Spectre (2015) was $300,000,000.


Can You Dig It?

With these two examples it's clear where some priotities are for some. A vault that is made to secure the preservation of natural - non GMO - seeds, vital for the survival of humanity and other life forms, has a much smaller construction and production budget compared to a Hollywood movie.

  • Global Seed Vault: 9 million Dollars.
  • Movie: Spectre 300 million Dollars.

Photo: Mitsuaki Tanabe.

Of course we don't know important details and therefor we do not want and can not make any judgement. Perhaps the construction of the vault was that cheap and it didn't need any more money for extra items?
This is not necessarily the case.

Norway’s “Doomsday” Seed Vault Is Getting a $13 Million Upgrade

"To ensure that the SGSV can continue to provide such aid in times of crisis, it will soon be getting much-needed upgrades worth almost $13 million (100 million NOK), according to Norway’s Agriculture Ministry. Some time late in 2016, the seed vault was damaged by an unexpected permafrost thaw, which caused flooding into the vault’s tunnel entrance.

“The project includes the construction of a new, concrete-built access tunnel, as well as a service building to house emergency power and refrigerating units and other electrical equipment that emits heat through the tunnel,” the government stated." -


Adding the $13 Million of the upgrade to the $9 Million of the construction costs is a total of $22 Million.
Still much cheaper compared to Spectre. And it may get even more interesting...

"The Norwegian government entirely funded the vault's approximately 45 million kr (US$9 million) construction.[7] Storing seeds in the vault is free to end users, with Norway and the Crop Trust paying for operational costs. Primary funding for the Trust comes from organisations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and from various governments worldwide."


Some people who have put money in the seed bank are very very rich. And may be they have more money than Spectre.
Nine million Dollars is perhaps peanuts for them. And that makes it interesting, because...

What Would You Do?
If you have a few billion Dollars and looking for a hide-out survival bunker. The island of Spitsbergen may be the perfect place. Peanuts for them. And some seeds in a mountain in Norway for us? Is it realistic? Would a wise human or other life form (referring to the alien invasion scenario) choose for a bunker nearby a seed bank?

And there's always the case of what's is presented in the public domain and what is real. Often very different stranger things. 

We are glad that the seed vault exist on this timeline. The world has many issues that can threat the purity and quality of food. Such as; eco-terrorism, GMO seeds and the contamination of non-GMO seeds for example.
But comparing the costs with other - less important - projects, the seed vault is placed in a different light.

The Global Seed Vault perhaps can be a solution for the preservation of seeds, that are threatened by wars, GMO contamination, natural and man-made disasters.

In the meantime, the best way to prep for the unknown is to collect seeds and start your own seed bank.

Happy Birthday Svalbard Seed Vault 10 Years.