Retired geologist probes deep into sinkhole that is Oak Island | Provincial | News
What if the Money Pit is just a naturally occurring sinkhole?
Would that mean the dreams, fortunes and even lives lost in the often obsessed pursuit of Oak Island’s treasure were given in vain?
Steven Aitken can’t answer that question.
It’s outside of his field.
Sedimentary geology, however, is right in Aitken’s wheelhouse.
“In my professional opinion what you’re looking at the Money Pit is a naturally formed sinkhole,” said the geologist who specializes in carbonate sedimentology.
That would mean it’s not a deep tunnel with an elaborate system of lateral refilling waterways meant to kill those attempting to get the treasure put there by Captain Kidd or the Knights Templar or whoever you think built it centuries before the invention of the excavator.
A geologic profile
Aitken spent two decades poring over databases of geological information, drill logs and data from historic wells in his Calgary office to come up with places where companies should spend millions of dollars chasing oil.
Then he retired.
“So that left me with time to do useless things like make posters on Oak Island,” said Aitken.
“Useless” and “posters” would be a bit dismissive.
What Aitken has done is perform the same data analysis he once would have done for oil plays on Oak Island – examining its geology and its extensive drilling record to come up with a geological profile.
You can find his analysis here.
Geologists before him have posited the theory that the Money Pit is a sinkhole.
They just didn’t go as deep, pardon the pun.
To those of us who haven’t spend our lives immersed in the technical dialect of geologists his analysis looks like a lot of long words.
But to have him walk you through it is to fold back the stony shoulders of a landscape and peer into deep, geological time.
Looking at the drill cores, Aitken speaks casually of millions of years ago when what is now Nova Scotia was the bottom of a warm and shallow sea.
“The drilling data is the real meat of the discussion. They’re described as very porous and permeable sand units.”
– Geologist Steven Aitken
In its waters entire genuses of species lived, evolved and died out.
“So there’s this deposition of carbonates in what was probably a very shallow environment and then this sand is dumped in, and even volcanics if you can believe it,” said Aitken.
The engineered shafts meant to drown treasure-hunters with seawater Aitken sees in the drill logs as porous layers of sandstone that soaked up drilling fluid.
“They’re pretty obvious,” said Aitken.
“They’re well defined in the logs. The drilling data is the real meat of the discussion. They’re described as very porous and permeable sand units.”
The Money Pit to Aitkens is where pockets of rocks like gypsum dissolved over the millennia causing the layers above to collapse.
In the geological timeline the glaciers are recent history.
They plow through and retreat every few dozen millennia overtop of the sandy geological remnants of a former sea known as the Windsor group. Like bulldozers they pile up hills known to geologists as drumlins and then fade away.
Those hills are the islands of Mahone Bay. It was on one of these – Oak Island – that in 1795 young Daniel McGinnis found a hole.
Together with some friends he started digging.
According to McGinnis they found a shaft with platforms made of oak logs and coconut mats. That’s something Aitken’s geology lesson can’t explain.
Nor are the many other legends that have surrounded the island and its purported treasure.
“I think they’ve already found the treasure, if you know what I mean,” said Aitkens
And yes, Aitkens was brought to this recent project because he was a regular viewer of the History Channel’s Curse of Oak Island.
But he got a bit offended that amidst the pseudo-historians they didn’t invite a geologist to offer a science-based assessment of the processes that formed the Money Pit.
So he’s not watching it anymore.