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Occurrence, distribution, and volume of metals-contaminated sediment of selected streams draining the Tri-State Mining District, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Kansas, 2011–12

Scientific Investigations Report 2016-5144

Prepared in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
By:
https://doi.org/10.3133/sir20165144

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Abstract

Lead and zinc were mined in the Tri-State Mining District (TSMD) of southwest Missouri, northeast Oklahoma, and southeast Kansas for more than 100 years. The effects of mining on the landscape are still evident, nearly 50 years after the last mine ceased operation. The legacies of mining are the mine waste and discharge of groundwater from underground mines. The mine-waste piles and underground mines are continuous sources of trace metals (primarily lead, zinc, and cadmium) to the streams that drain the TSMD. Many previous studies characterized the horizontal extent of mine-waste contamination in streams but little information exists on the depth of mine-waste contamination in these streams. Characterizing the vertical extent of contamination is difficult because of the large amount of coarse-grained material, ranging from coarse gravel to boulders, within channel sediment. The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with U.S. Fish and Wildlife service, collected channel-sediment samples at depth for subsequent analyses that would allow attainment of the following goals: (1) determination of the relation between concentration and depth for lead, zinc and cadmium in channel sediments and flood-plain sediments, and (2) determination of the volume of gravel-bar sediment from the surface to the maximum depth with concentrations of these metals that exceeded sediment-quality guidelines. For the purpose of this report, volume of gravel-bar sediment is considered to be distributed in two forms, gravel bars and the wetted channel, and this study focused on gravel bars. Concentrations of lead, zinc, and cadmium in samples were compared to the consensus probable effects concentration (CPEC) and Tri-State Mining District specific probable effects concentration (TPEC) sediment-quality guidelines.

During the study, more than 700 sediment samples were collected from borings at multiple sites, including gravel bars and flood plains, along Center Creek, Turkey Creek, Shoal Creek, Tar Creek, and Spring River in order to characterize the vertical extent of mine waste in select streams in the TSMD. The largest concentrations of lead, zinc, and cadmium in gravel bar-sediment samples generally were detected in Turkey Creek and Tar Creek and the smallest concentrations were detected in Shoal Creek followed by the Spring River. Gravel bar-sediment samples from Turkey Creek exceeded the CPEC for cadmium (minimum of 70 percent of samples), lead (94 percent), and zinc (99 percent) at a slightly higher frequency than similar samples from Tar Creek (69 percent, 88 percent, and 96 percent, respectively). Gravel bar-sediment samples from Turkey Creek also contained the largest concentrations of cadmium (174 milligrams per kilogram [mg/kg]) and lead (7,520 mg/kg) detected; however, the largest zinc concentration (46,600 mg/kg) was detected in a gravel bar-sediment sample from Tar Creek. In contrast, none of the 65 gravel bar-sediment samples from Shoal Creek contained cadmium above the x-ray fluorescence reporting level of 12 mg/kg, and lead and zinc exceeded the CPEC in only 12 percent and 74 percent of samples, respectively. In most cases, concentrations of lead and zinc above the CPEC or TPEC were present at the maximum depth of boring, which indicated that nearly the entire thickness of sediment in the stream has been contaminated by mine wastes. Approximately 284,000 cubic yards of channel sediment from land surface to the maximum depth that exceeded the CPEC and approximately 236,000 cubic yards of channel sediment from land surface to the maximum depth that exceeded the TPEC were estimated along 37.6 of the 55.1 miles of Center Creek, Turkey Creek, Shoal Creek, and Tar Creek examined in this study. Mine-waste contamination reported along additional reaches of these streams is beyond the scope of this study. Flood-plain cores collected in the TSMD generally only had exceedances of the CPEC and TPEC for lead and zinc in the top 1 or 2 feet of soil with a few exceptions, such as cores in low areas near the stream or cores in areas disturbed by past mining.


Suggested Citation

Smith, D.C., 2016, Occurrence, distribution, and volume of metals-contaminated sediment of selected streams draining the Tri-State Mining District, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Kansas, 2011–12: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2016–5144, 86 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/sir20165144.

ISSN: 2328-0328 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Methodology
  • Quality Control and Quality Assurance
  • Occurrence, Distribution, and Volume of Metals-Contaminated Sediment
  • Summary and Conclusions
  • References Cited

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Occurrence, distribution, and volume of metals-contaminated sediment of selected streams draining the Tri-State Mining District, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Kansas, 2011–12
Series title:
Scientific Investigations Report
Series number:
2016-5144
DOI:
10.3133/sir20165144
Year Published:
2016
Language:
English
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Reston, VA
Contributing office(s):
Missouri Water Science Center
Description:
ix, 86 p.
Country:
United States
State:
Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma
Other Geospatial:
Tri-State Mining District
Online Only (Y/N):
Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N):
Y