Monohydrocalcite (MHC: CaCO3·H2O), a rare carbonate mineral formed under surface conditions, is usually observed in nature as containing a variable amount of Mg, with a 0.007-0.45 Mg/Ca mole ratio. The variable Mg composition in MHC is anticipated as a promising proxy to assess paleo-hydrochemistry especially in saline lakes. Although the roles of Mg on the formation and stability of MHC have been studied intensively, the Mg speciation in MHC has remained unclear and controversial. This study examined Mg speciation in MHC using X-ray absorption near edge structure (XANES), ab initio molecular simulation, and geochemical modeling. Mg-XANES spectra of MHC with different Mg/Ca ratios prepared from mixing solutions of Na2CO3, CaCl2 and MgCl2 revealed that the Mg in MHC is a mixture of amorphous Mg carbonate (AMC) and other Mg containing phase. The contribution of AMC to total Mg is negatively correlated to the crystallinity of MHC. Results show that AMC might play a protective role in the crystallization and the transformation to stable calcium carbonates. Ab initio calculation of Mg2+ substitution into MHC showed that a limited amount of Mg2+ can be incorporated into the MHC structure. Six-fold coordination of Mg2+ is substituted for eight-fold coordination of Ca2+ in the MHC structure. The other type of Mg in MHC revealed from the XANES analyses most likely corresponds to the structural Mg in MHC. The contribution of the structural Mg is almost constant at 0.06 in Mg/Ca, representing the limit of solid solubility of Mg in MHC. The solubility products of the MHC with the limit of solid solubility of Mg and the AMC associated with MHC were estimated from the reacted solution compositions. Prediction of the Mg/Ca ratio as a function of the initial solution conditions using solubility reasonably reproduces the observed apparent Mg/Ca ratios in MHC from the present study and earlier studies. The apparent Mg/Ca ratio of MHC is useful to elucidate water chemistry, especially for CO3/Ca and Mg concentrations during MHC formation.