AFP, 24 February 2008 - Aimed at providing mankind with a Noah's Ark of food in the event of a global catastrophe, an Arctic "doomsday vault" filled with samples of the world's most important seeds will be inaugurated here Tuesday.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Nobel Peace Prize winning environmentalist Wangari Matai will be among the personalities present at the inauguration of the vault, which has been carved into the permafrost of a remote Arctic mountain, just some 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) from the North Pole.
The vault, made up of three spacious cold chambers each measuring 27 x 10 metres (89 x 33 feet), create a long trident-shaped tunnel bored into the sandstone and limestone.It has the capacity to hold up to 4.5 million batches of seeds from all known varieties of the planet's main food crops, making it possible to re-establish plants if they disappear from their natural environment or are obliterated by major disasters.
Protected by high walls of fortified concrete, an armoured door, a sensor alarm and the native polar bears that roam the region, the "doomsday vault" has been built 130 metres (425 feet) above current sea level -- high enough that it would not flood if the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets melt entirely due to global warming.
The concrete cocoon has also been built to withstand nuclear missile attacks or a plunging plane, something that could come in handy in light of the 6.4-scale tremor -- the biggest earthquake in Norway's history -- registered near the archipelago on Thursday. Read the entire article