The Curse of Oak Island: Season 6, Episode 14- Voyage to the Bottom of the Cenote
The following is a Plot Summary and Analysis of Season 6, Episode 14 of the History Channel’s TV series The Curse of Oak Island.
Rick and Marty Lagina meet with Terry Matheson and Laird Niven at Smith’s Cove, where the concrete wall discovered in Season 6, Episode 12 has been fully uncovered. It is revealed that the treasure hunters attempted to locate the end of the supposed box drain discovered in Season 6, Episode 10, but met without success. Marty Lagina puzzles over the many strange structures discovered in Smith’s Cove this season and concludes, “Well, one thing’s extremely consistent: nothing makes sense”.
Meanwhile, Craig Tester and Jack Begley meet with Troy Greene and Brian Pyke of the Centre of Geographic Sciences (COGS) at the marina in the nearby town of Western Shore, Nova Scotia. Green and Pyke have a boat equipped with a LIDAR scanner with which they plan to search for the termini of the supposed South Shore Cove box drains.
The four men meet up with a larger COGS team, pile into the boat, and head for Oak Island. While they prepare to conduct their LIDAR scan, the narrator explains that the team will “scan along a total of some 30 lines arranged five metres apart in a systematic grid pattern which will allow them to totally encompass the island’s coastal area.”
While scanning in the waters off the South Shore Cove, the COGS team discovers a depression in the vicinity of the ice holes observed by Dan Blankenship in February 1980. Shortly thereafter, the scanner picks up an anchor lying on the sea floor.
The next day, the Oak Island crew meets in the War Room, where they call up Dr. Christa Brosseau of Halifax’s St. Mary’s University. Brosseau, who has analyzed some recent artifacts brought up from the Money Pit, identifies the supposed bone discovered in H8 at the end of Season 6, Episode 13, as “iron, rich in sulphur”, and suggests that it is likely slag- the by-product of smelted ore. Borsseau then identifies leather-like material recently extracted from H8 to be “definitely plant material”, likely tree bark. Finally, Brosseau identifies both pieces of paper-like material discovered in Season 6, Episode 13, as “rag paper”, or paper made from cotton fibres. She suggests that the crew have the paper analyzed by an expert in historical documents.
Later, Marty Lagina, Craig Tester, Jack Begley, Gary Drayton, and Dan Henskee gather at the Money Pit, where more material is being extracted from H8. While sifting through the spoils, Craig Tester discovers a large fragment of pottery. Dan Henskee comes across a piece of what appears to be wood from a searcher tunnel, while Jack Begley finds a fragment of what he suggests might be leather. Gary Drayton then finds an old iron nail with a square shaft which he says resembles a decking nail from a ship.
Meanwhile, Alex Lagina and Doug Crowell travel to the Nova Scotia School of Art and Design in Halifax. There, they meet with bookbinding expert Joe Landry, to whom they show the fragments of cotton paper brought up from H8. Landry remarks that the paper bearing the yellow and red paint or ink appears to be folded, and proposes that he attempt to wet it and unfold it to see whether there might be any writing on the inside. The treasure hunters acquiesce, and Landry, assisted by his apprentice, Katherine Taylor, wets both of the paper pieces and attempts to unfold them. The larger, blacker piece of paper refuses to unfold, suggesting that some adhesive has been applied to it- an indication that the paper was once part of a book. Landry observes that the papers are very even, suggesting that they constitute pieces of wove paper- an invention made in around 1737- or thin cloth. He ultimately suggests that they ought to examine the papers by microscope if they hope to learn more about them.
Later, while the excavation of H8 is underway, the oscillator seizes up. Caisson operator Danny Smith investigates the problem and concludes that the ground is caving in.
While the crew attempts to sort out the cave-in issue at the Money Pit, Marty Lagina and Doug Crowell meet with Joe Landry and lab technician Fergus Tweedale at St. Mary’s University in Halifax. Tweedale places the paper fragment from H8 bearing red and yellow markings under a polarized light microscope. The red marking on the paper has a crystalline surface, which Landry says is indicative of medieval and Renaissance inks. He then suggests that the pigment used in the red ink might be cinnabar, or vermillion- a brilliant scarlet pigment made from powdered mercury sulfide. Upon being prompted by Marty, Landry estimates that the paper constitutes a fragment of a manuscript created anywhere from the 13th Century to the 1600s.
Back at the Money Pit, the contractors conclude that they can no longer oscillate the H8 caisson but can continue to excavate via hammergrab.
Later that night, Rick Lagina rushes to the Money Pit, summoned by an urgent phone call from Charles Barkhouse. It appears that the cave-in around H8 has graduated into a more substantial sinkhole. Rick puts on a harness and proceeds to inspect the sinkhole, which proves to be a water-filled, roughly 10-foot-deep depression beside the H8 caisson. After several large pieces of surface debris fall away into the chasm, Rick decides to head back to safety.
The following morning, the Lagina brothers, Craig Tester, and Dave Blankenship head to the Money Pit to assess the damage. “This is not good,” Marty remarks, before reminding the treasure hunters that there are voids beneath the Money Pit area, and that the entire are could potentially collapse at any moment. The treasure hunters agree that safety is of paramount importance, and that they cannot proceed before an outside safety engineer evaluates the situation.
The H8 Collapse
In this episode, a circular area roughly 6 feet in diameter beside Borehole H8 spontaneously gives way and sinks into the earth, presumably resultant of some subterranean collapse. This setback evokes the previous Money Pit collapses, which occurred in 1850 and 1861 due to the formation of searcher tunnels which undermined the structural integrity of the area. The incident is also reminiscent of the discovery of the Cave-In Pit- a mysterious filled-in shaft located between the Money Pit and Smith’s Cove, supposed by some to be an air shaft built to supply oxygen to the labourers who constructed the Smith’s Cove flood tunnel- which was discovered in 1875, when the ox team of Oak Island resident Sophia Sellers disappeared into a 10-foot-deep, 7-foot-in-diameter pit which opened up beneath them.
The Oak Island crew members agree that, for safety purposes, they must suspend work in the area until the sinkhole has been inspected by an outside engineer.