Just hand over $15m - first payment, $500,000.

Western Shore - For only $15 million, you could uncover the mystery of Oak Island.
The good news is you'd only have to spend about half a million to begin with because that's about what it would cost to find out if the project's worth pursuing.

Three civil engineering students from McGill University in Montreal were given the assignment to find a way to safely recover any treasure that could be buried at the bottom of the money pit on Oak Island.

Their project received honourable mention from the dean of civil engineering.

The students' professor is Les MacPhie, senior geotechnical engineer at SNC-Lavalin.

He presented a proposal five years ago to drill a series of holes in a nine-metre-diameter ring, freeze the earth by pumping chilled brine into the holes, and then excavate the soil.

The three recent graduates presented their project during Explore Oak Island Days at Oak Island Resort and Spa Saturday.

They looked at several ideas, including Mr. MacPhie's cryogenic freezing proposal, but came up with something different.

"The main excavation challenge, the reason why the mystery has lasted for hundreds of years, the reason countless investigation efforts have tried and failed, is for the one simple reason that there's a natural flood tunnel system at 150 to 200 feet," said student Nathan Ramsey.

The flooding gets worse with every attempt to drain it.

The students propose creating something called a secant pile wall.

Robert Wolofsky said they propose drilling a series of overlapping holes up to 88.5-metres deep, creating a ring 21 metres in diameter.

The holes would be lined with reinforced steel casings, filled with cement, then the casings removed. The wall would create a permanent watertight barrier and allow treasure hunters to safely excavate the soil and rock.

The work would only be worth doing if a series of test holes show anything promising, and Mr. Ramsey estimates that would cost about $500,000.

There would be 37 primary holes 1.2 metres in diameter, then 37 secondary interlocking holes 1.5 metres in diameter.

Mr. Ramsey said it would cost about $15 million to do this, "but really, when it comes down to it, what you find down there's priceless, right?"

"No one exactly knows who put something there, or what they put there and why," said Christopher Ong Tone.But he said it's clear someone did extensive work deep underground a long time ago, as evidenced by oak platforms found at regular intervals, charcoal, coconut fibres, an inscribed stone (which is believed to be a hoax) and man-made flood tunnels.

Danny Hennigar of the Oak Island Tourism Society said the four Americans who now own the money pit area, along with Nova Scotian Dan Blankenship, have seen the proposal.

Their lawyer said in an interview three years ago when they bought the land that they would like to solve the mystery of what may lie beneath the ground.

They renewed the registration for their land development and investment company in Nova Scotia just two weeks ago.

"Speaking on behalf of the Oak Island Tourism Society, sure we'd like to see somebody solve the mystery of Oak Island," Mr. Hennigar said.

"It's not going to hurt any opportunity that we may see for tourism, in fact, we think it would enhance it."Personally I'm not convinced that there's a treasure buried under Oak Island. I am convinced somebody did a lot of work under Oak Island. The natural conclusion would be that it's to bury something of value."

More than 300 people will have visited Oak Island as part of the annual three-day celebration, which continues today (Sunday, June 21) at the resort.