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Satellite images have been widely applied in near real-time flood inundation maps in many cases. Such images have significant potential to predict the time, place and scale of a flood event, and can be very useful in emergency response efforts. The detection of floodwaters and the estimation of flood volumes are important to determine a hazard in flood risk. In this study, we conducted surface water detection based on the spatial distribution of the 2010 Indus River flood, which affected the entire Pakistan area. A modified surface water index derived from near-real-time Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MODIS) images coupled with a digital elevation model (DEM) was used. We also developed and applied a simplified algorithm to extract the 3D volume of floodplain surface water considering surface heights. The results found that the MODIS-DEM combined approach was feasible for automatic, instant flood detection. This approach shows a methodological possibility as an integrated algorithm for producing flood maps at local to global scales.