The Gulf of Carpentaria is a tropical, silled epicontinental sea and may be a modern analogue for ancient cratonic basins. For the purpose of this study, the Gulf of Carpentaria is compared to Pennsylvanian cratonic basins of the United States. During the Pennsylvanian, the North American continent moved from the Southern Hemisphere, through the Equator, into the Northern Hemisphere. Today, the Gulf of Carpentaria–New Guinea region is a few degrees south of the Equator and is moving towards it. During the Pennsylvanian, the world was subjected to major glaciations and associated sea-level changes. The island of New Guinea and the Gulf of Carpentaria have undergone similar processes during the Quaternary. A reconnaissance seismic survey of the gulf conducted by the USGS and the Australian National University (ANU), combined with oil-exploration well data, provided the first step in a systematic evaluation of a modern tropical epicontinental system. During the Cenozoic, the region was dominated by terrestrial sedimentation in a temperate climate. At the same time, carbonates were being deposited on the northern shelf edge of the Australian Plate. During the Miocene, carbonate deposition expanded southward into the gulf region. Then in the Late Miocene, carbonate sedimentation was replaced by terrigenous clastics derived from the developing Central Range of the island of New Guinea, which developed a wetter climate while moving northwards into the tropics. At least 14 basin-wide transgressive–regressive cycles are identified by channels that were eroded under subaerial conditions since about the Miocene. Comparison of the modern Gulf of Carpentaria sequences with those of the Pennsylvanian reveals many similarities.