Historical mining activity 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 cadmium, lead, and zinc to the environment. To provide some of the information needed to support remediation efforts in the Cherokee County, Kansas, superfund site, a 4-year study was begun in 2009 by the U.S. Geological Survey that was requested and funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. A combination of surficial-soil sampling and coring was used to investigate the occurrence and variability of mining-related lead and zinc in the flood plains of the Spring River and several tributaries within the superfund site. Lead- and zinc-contaminated flood plains are a concern, in part, because they represent a long-term source of contamination to the fluvial environment. Lead and zinc contamination was assessed with reference to probable-effect concentrations (PECs), which represent the concentrations above which adverse aquatic biological effects are likely to occur. The general PECs for lead and zinc were 128 and 459 milligrams per kilogram, respectively. The TSMD-specific PECs for lead and zinc were 150 and 2,083 milligrams per kilogram, respectively. Typically, surficial soils in the Spring River flood plain had lead and zinc concentrations that were less than the general PECs. Lead and zinc concentrations in the surficial-soil samples were variable with distance downstream and with distance from the Spring River channel, and the largest lead and zinc concentrations usually were located near the channel. Lead and zinc concentrations larger than the general or TSMD-specific PECs, or both, were infrequent at depth in the Spring River flood plain. When present, such contamination typically was confined to the upper 2 feet of the core and frequently was confined to the upper 6 inches.