Metamorphic mineral assemblages suggest the existence of variable geotherms and lithospheric thicknesses beneath late Archean continental crust. Archean granite-greenstone terranes reflect steep geotherms (50-70°C/km) while high-grade terranes reflect moderate geotherms similar to present continental crust with high heat flow (25-40°C/km). Corresponding lithosphere thicknesses for each terrane during the late Archean are 35-50 km and 50-75 km, respectively. Early Archean (≥ 3.0 b.y.) greenstones differ from late Archean (∼ 2.7 b.y.) greenstones by the rarity or absence of andesite and graywacke and the relative abundance of pelite, quartzite, and komatiite. Mature clastic sediments in early greenstones reflect shallow-water, stable-basin deposition. Such rocks, together with granite-bearing conglomerate and felsic volcanics imply the existence of still older granitic source terranes. The absence or rarity of andesite in early greenstones reflects the absence of tectonic conditions in which basaltic and tonalitic magmas are modified to produce andesite. A model is presented in which early Archean greenstones form at the interface between tonalite islands and oceanic lithosphere, over convective downcurrents; high-grade supracrustals form on stable continental edges or interiors; and late Archean greenstones form in intracontinental rifts over mantle plumes.