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Representativeness of soil samples collected to assess mining-related contamination of flood plains in southeast Kansas

January 1, 2015

Historical lead and zinc mining in the Tri-State Mining District (TSMD), located in parts of southeast Kansas, southwest Missouri, and northeast Oklahoma, has resulted in a substantial ongoing input of lead and zinc to the environment (Juracek, 2006; Juracek and Becker, 2009). In response to concern about the mining-related contamination, southeast Cherokee County, Kansas, was listed on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (USEPA) National Priority List as a Superfund hazardous waste site (fig. 1). To provide some of the information needed to support remediation efforts in the Cherokee County Superfund site, a study was begun in 2009 by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) that was requested and funded by USEPA. As part of the study, surficial-soil sampling was used to investigate the extent and magnitude of mining-related lead and zinc contamination in the flood plains of the Spring River and several tributaries within the Superfund site. In mining-affected areas, flood-plain soils had lead and zinc concentrations that far exceeded background levels as well as probable-effects guidelines for toxic aquatic biological effects (Juracek, 2013). Lead- and zinc-contaminated flood plains are a concern, in part, because they represent a long-term source of contamination to the fluvial environment.

An important issue is the within-site representativeness of the surficial-soil samples collected. Specifically, the question is whether or not the samples collected provide an acceptable representation of the lead and zinc concentrations at each site for the purpose of characterizing and comparing sites. The distribution of mining-contaminated sediment on flood plains is determined by several factors including the size and density of the contaminated particles, flood-plain width and topography, flood characteristics (frequency, magnitude, duration), and fluvial geomorphic processes. To evaluate within-site representativeness, additional samples were simultaneously collected to assess within-site variability. In this paper, the specific objectives were to:

  1. Describe the collection and analysis of surficial-soil samples using a 5-point sampling technique;
  2. Describe the collection and analysis of additional surficial-soil samples to assess within-site variability; and
  3. Evaluate the within-site representativeness of the original 5-point samples for assessing mining-related contamination.


Publication Year 2015
Title Representativeness of soil samples collected to assess mining-related contamination of flood plains in southeast Kansas
Authors Kyle E. Juracek
Publication Type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Index ID 70174828
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Kansas Water Science Center