PHWAT is a new model that couples a geochemical reaction model (PHREEQC-2) with a density-dependent groundwater flow and solute transport model (SEAWAT) using the split-operator approach. PHWAT was developed to simulate multi-component reactive transport in variable density groundwater flow. Fluid density in PHWAT depends not on only the concentration of a single species as in SEAWAT, but also the concentrations of other dissolved chemicals that can be subject to reactive processes. Simulation results of PHWAT and PHREEQC-2 were compared in their predictions of effluent concentration from a column experiment. Both models produced identical results, showing that PHWAT has correctly coupled the sub-packages. PHWAT was then applied to the simulation of a tank experiment in which seawater intrusion was accompanied by cation exchange. The density dependence of the intrusion and the snow-plough effect in the breakthrough curves were reflected in the model simulations, which were in good agreement with the measured breakthrough data. Comparison simulations that, in turn, excluded density effects and reactions allowed us to quantify the marked effect of ignoring these processes. Next, we explored numerical issues involved in the practical application of PHWAT using the example of a dense plume flowing into a tank containing fresh water. It was shown that PHWAT could model physically unstable flow and that numerical instabilities were suppressed. Physical instability developed in the model in accordance with the increase of the modified Rayleigh number for density-dependent flow, in agreement with previous research. ?? 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.