When I have had this problem in the past it was usually due to not having run a repair library before createing or updating the vault.
I suggest you stop Aperture (while force quitting Aperture is never a good idea doing during a vault operation seems to have the least negative consequences) reboot your system, then start Aperture while holding the option and command keys down. Run a library repair and then try creating a new vault.
Post back if you still have troubles.
I have the same problem as JDH from WA (15 Sept 13):
I followed your advice:
I rebooted my computer, then start Aperture while holding the option and command keys down, and ran a full repair:
Repair Database [Repairing Library Database]
Repair Permissions [Checking library consistency]
Restarting Aperture between each repair/rebuild.
I then created a new Vault on extHD. Successful (right thru to little black circle--which wasn't previously happening). I added a few photos to library (with further subsequent repairs just to be sure) and tried to update the Vault (by clicking on little circle). But Aperture crashed [ie no action: Force Quit shows 'Aperture (not responding)']. I've repeated this process many times with no luck.
Any further suggestions?
System: OS 10.8.5 Aperture 3.4.5 ext HD: Lacie500GB (no other files). Size of Aperture Library 200GB.