Professor Mutter's early research interests included marine seismology and tectonics, the study of physical mechanisms and processes associated with seafloor spreading, continental extension and the development of passive continental margins. Initial studies focused on rifting and volcanism in the Norwegian-Greenland Sea. He continues those research thrusts with recent studies of active rifting in the Woodlark Basin off Papua New Guinea on seafloor spreading processes. He is currently funded to lead a 3D seismic survey of the East pacific Rise at 9° N using Lamont's new research vessel, the Marcus Langseth that has multi-streamer capacity designed for 3D seismic acquisition. This cruise take place in late 2007. The cruise will hopefully be the first of a series of cruises that will repeat image the EPR to study the dynamics of magmatic processes in a very active area of the mid-ocean ridge system.
Mainly through his work at the Earth Institute and his joint faculty position in the School of International and Public Affairs Mutter also studies the role of natural disasters in determining human well being and the special barriers they impose on development in poorer countries. He includes in this approach study of the Katrina catastrophe in New Orleans and the Gulf coast where one project involves making an accurate accounting of the full death toll from the hurricane. The project is outlined at Katrina Project