Over 100 scientists from seven countries met at Airlie House, Warrenton, Virginia, November 13–17, 1981, to discuss relevant scientific issues concerning the early evolution of the crusts of the terrestrial planets. The impetus for this meeting was twofold: to bring the planetary and Archean scientific communities together and to lay the framework for a long-term multidisciplinary research project.

The motivation for such a project stems from the fact that during the past several decades vast quantities of new data relevant to the origin and evolution of the planets have been acquired. As a result, a revolution has occurred in our approach to the evolution of crust-mantle systems of planetary bodies, with the appreciation that all but the smallest bodies in the solar system probably underwent a period of extensive melting and differentiation during their first few hundred million years of existence.