The question at hand is centered upon a singular event between Permian and Triassic time periods. Roughly 250 million years ago the Earth experienced the largest mass extinction event in its history. 95% of all species were wiped out for reasons not fully understood. Even the more famous extinction which killed the dinasaurs, paled in comparison.
In order to shed some light on this long standing problem of Earth history and geology, the team sought fossilized plants and sediments from this time period in order to reconstruct a more full picture of the ecology of this part of this world was doing then. Which kinds of plants were living, how they reproduced, and what kind of environment they lived in.
One of the wonders of that ancient time period is that the modern position of the Shackleton Glacier region, roughly 85 degrees south, is roughly the latitude that these same landscapes existed in during the Permian-Triassic extinction event. Somehow plants, trees, and animals managed to flourish in an environment with four months of darkness and four months of complete light.
Today, this kind of science project is only possible because of the massive support network of the United States Antarctic Program. The efforts of hundreds of people, both in the US and Antarctica, countless pilots, support crew, planners, and other support staff made it possible for our group of six researches to exist in this environment and conduct remote research over a five week period.
The group was part of a larger research effort based from the US Antarctic Program's McMurdo station. For one main season, the USAP built a deep field camp on the Shackleton Glacier in the heart of the transantarctic mountains. From there the team was able to establish two satellite camps high up on mountainsides where they could work closely with the fossil sites.
Also utilizing helicopters and ski-equipped airplanes for day trips, the team was able to visit many sites in the region to bring home an abunance of data which will be used to flesh out the remaining mysteries of the Permian-Triassic period of time, in terms of geology and ecology.