In geology, the word "differentiate" refers specifically to a chemical process changing the composition of a body of rock or magma away from an average composition. There are two common kinds of geologic differentiation. They are:

Chemical differentiation: Here, various elements or oxides are preferentially selected from a more homogenous parent body, based upon minimizing thermodynamic energy in the mixture. This process resulted in the chemical distinctions between the Earth's crust and mantle, as the crust is formed of the more easily melted portions of the mantle.

Physical differentiation: In this case, actual physical processes separate out different components of a mixture. Most commonly, heavier components of a magma-rock mixture settle to the bottom gravitationally. This process caused the Earth to separate into a nickel-iron core and a more siliceous mantle and crust.

In the planetary sciences and the study of meteorites, differentiation from the solar norm indicates that a rock originated from a sufficiently large parent body to induce melting.

Dif`fer*en"ti*ate (?), v. t.

1.

To distinguish or mark by a specific difference; to effect a difference in, as regards classification; to develop differential characteristics in; to specialize; to desynonymize.

The word then was differentiated into the two forms then and than. Earle.

Two or more of the forms assumed by the same original word become differentiated in signification. Dr. Murray.

2.

To express the specific difference of; to describe the properties of (a thing) whereby it is differenced from another of the same class; to discriminate.

Earle.

3. Math.

To obtain the differential, or differential coefficient, of; as, to differentiate an algebraic expression, or an equation.

 

© Webster 1913.


Dif`fer*en"ti*ate, v. i. Biol.

To acquire a distinct and separate character.

Huxley.

 

© Webster 1913.

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