For almost the whole of May 2019, Ecton Mine was the site of a remarkable exploration venture, when the European Horizon2020 UNEXMIN project carried out its fourth set of pilot tests. Two submersible robots were used to explore the depths of the mine, beyond the safe range of any human divers.
A series of ten dives were carried out, in the Great Shaft (the main pumping shaft), the winding shaft, and the pipe workings. These were successfully linked at depth, and a number of further mine openings - cross-cuts and mineralised areas - were identified. Previous records (from plumb-line data) that the two shafts are blocked at 123m and 112m depth were confirmed. A huge chamber was discovered in the upper part of the pipe working, and mapped in three dimensions by sonar. Access was gained to deeper pipe workings but there was insufficient time to carry out detailed exploration of this area of the mine.
Archaeological discoveries are described in a summary report by John Barnatt.
Geological structure and mineralisation are yet to be studied in detail, but it has already been determined that fold styles and lithologies are similar to those seen at the surface at Apes Tor and in upper parts of the mine.
The full report on geoscientific and archaeological interpretation can be downloaded from here. It includes detailed Annexes by John Barnatt and Richard Shaw.
The final UNEXMIN project video can be viewed here ...