The Eoarchean was formerly officially unnamed and informally referred to as the first part of the Early Archean or Paleoarchean Era, both now obsolete names.
The International Commission on Stratigraphy now officially recognizes the Eoarchean Era as the first part of the Archaean Eon, preceded by the Hadean Eon, during which the Earth is believed to have been essentially molten.
A characteristic of the Eoarchean is that Earth possessed a firm crust for the first time. However, this crust may have been incomplete at many sites and areas of lava may have existed at the surface. The beginning of the Eoarchean is characterized by heavy asteroid bombardment within the inner solar system: the Late Heavy Bombardment. The Eoarchean is the first time from which solid rock formations on Earth have survived. The largest is the Isua Greenstone Belt on the south-west coast of Greenland and dates from 3.8 billion years. The Acasta Gneiss within the Canadian Shield have been dated to be 4,031 Ma and are therefore the oldest preserved rock formations. In 2008, another rock formation was discovered in the Nuvvuagittuq greenstone belt in northern Québec Canada which has been dated to be . These formations are presently under intense investigation.