'Doomsday' Seed Vault to Open

Norwegian project will house all known crop species
By Caroline Zimmerman,  Newser User
Posted Feb 25, 2008 3:57 PM CST
An armed guard walks through the Svalbard Global Seed Vault Monday Feb. 25, 2008 in Longyearbyen, Norway. A "doomsday" vault built to withstand an earthquake or nuclear strike is ready to open deep in...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – The North Pole is no Fertile Crescent, but it will house collections of the world's crop seeds in a doomsday vault that will open tomorrow, AFP reports. The vault, built on Norwegian territory, contains three cold chambers that can hold a total of 4.5 million seed samples—twice the current amount of known crops—and will safeguard crops in the event of catastrophe.

"It will not be filled up in my lifetime, nor in my grandchildren's lifetime," the project leader said. The $8.9 million vault sits well above sea level to ensure it isn't destroyed by rising waters. It's resistant to nuclear attacks, and the permafrost will keep the seeds fresh even if the freezer system, which keeps the vaults at minus-18 Celsius (0 degrees Fahrenheit), fails.