It’s located on the island of Spitsbergen, Norway, near the Arctic Svalbard archipelago, a little over 800 miles from the North Pole.
Constructed over a two-year span and completed in 2008, the vault extends a distance of 390 feet into a solid sandstone mountain.
A collaboration between conservationist Cary Fowler and the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), the vault is designed to function as a last-ditch seed preserve and backup to the world’s 1,750 different seed banks.
In the event of a global disaster, these seeds can lay the foundation for a new agricultural system, one which could hopefully support a recovering human civilization.
The facility contains over 400,000 different seed varieties.
That adds up to about 20 million individual seeds.
The vault’s location also plays an important role in the preservation of the seeds. In addition to powered refrigeration units, the facility sits on layers of permafrost, which ensure continued cold.
Even if the equipment failed in the event of a disaster, it would be nearly a month before the temperature in the vault rose from the standard -0.4 degrees to the bedrock’s natural 27-degree temperature.
According to studies, the seeds in the vault could be usable up to hundreds of years.
Today, the vault contains close to one-third of the world’s most vital crop species.